NEW YORK – Trevor Noah, one of the most prominent comedy hosts in the United States, has spoken out against the wider problem of racial bias among police, saying he has been stopped by American officers “eight to 10 times”.
Noah, who is South African and hosts The Daily Show on Comedy Central, made the remarks after a Minnesota police officer was acquitted of all charges over the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Philando Castile last July.
Speaking to the audience between taping segments for the show on Tuesday, the 33-year-old said he had been stopped by police “at least eight to 10 times” in the six years he has lived in the US.
“I’ve been stopped in rental cars, I’ve been stopped in my car, I’ve been stopped in a car with tinted windows, a car with rims, a car with no rims. I’ve been stopped in a Tesla,” Noah said.
“You get to a point where you realise it’s just part of a black person’s life in America,” he added. “It’s insane that it’s such a normal thing.”
The Minnesota officer was acquitted last Friday over the shooting of Castile, who was in the vehicle with his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter.
Castile was initially singled out for a traffic stop because the officer thought he resembled a robbery suspect.
The officer opened fire while Castile was buckled in his seat, saying he thought Castile was reaching for the gun, which the motorist had earlier volunteered he was carrying legally.
“Whenever I get pulled over, the first thing I do is throw my arms out the window and it looks so stupid when you see me,” said Noah.
The United States has been beset in recent years by protests and national debate about allegations of police brutality and institutional racism over a string of deadly shootings of unarmed black suspects.
“Often times in America the conversation gets caught up in racism as it pertains to black and white, but I don’t believe that that is the conversation,” Noah said.
“I believe that the police force as a whole is trained in such a way that it creates state racism. That is different.”
Noah grew up in the South African township of Soweto, the child of a then-prohibited relationship between a black woman and a white Swiss father. — AFP