Comedian Dave Chappelle attended a council meeting Monday in his hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio and called for progressive policing of the community, Cincinnati.com reports.
His remarks came against the backdrop of the police chief resigning after widespread complaints about aggressive policing tactics at the town’s annual New Year’s Eve gathering.
“Given what the culture of our town is like, council has a tremendous opportunity to be a leader in progressive policing,” he said.
Yellow Springs’ New Year’s Eve celebration is like an annual reunion. Families, friends and neighbors gather in the town square to watch the ball drop. What’s normally a calm gathering, in which police officers mingle with the crowd, turned ugly, according to Yellow Springs News.
For no apparent reason, the police turned on their sirens and cruised down the street to disperse the crowd. A police report said people were intoxicated, getting high on marijuana and were becoming hostile, the News reported.
Local residents, however, believe the police unnecessarily used a heavy hand. The New York Times published an article in February about the town’s Black and White residents demanding less aggressive policing—even though Blacks and Whites saw the situation from different perspectives.
In his remarks, Chappelle thanked the police force for protecting him on at least two occasion. But he said there was a “huge gaffe New Year’s Eve.”
The comedian said many in the small community—including himself—know local police officers personally. “Now we are being policed by what feels like an alien force,” he stated.
He urged the councilmembers to seize the moment. “In this Trump year, this is an opportunity to show everybody that local politics reigns supreme,” Chappelle said.