John Oliver presented his take on events in Ferguson Sunday night, taking on everything from the mayor's whitewashing of the community's problems to the over-militarization of America's police forces.
"This whole story is depressingly familiar," Oliver said of the shooting of Michael Brown. "There are so many unanswered questions about why that officer would shoot an unarmed teenager. What is absolutely clear is that the police have handled everything since then terribly. "
Oliver points to St. Louis Police Chief's ridiculous answer to questions about how many times Brown was shot as the moment "the tone deafness began." Belmar told reporters "it was more than just a couple but I don't think it was many more than that."
"Just think about what he's saying there," Oliver said, responding to Belmar's statement. "Not much more than more than twice. Could you try and minimize this anymore?"
Oliver then brought up the way police tried to deflect from their actions by releasing footage of Brown shoplifting at the same time they FINALLY released the name of the officer who shot him. (By the way, the owners of the Ferguson Market say they did not call the police on Brown.)
"It's irrelevant," said Oliver. "If the police wanted to distract everyone with a video of that has absolutely nothing to do with Michael Brown's shooting, they should have just released Ghostbusters instead."
Oliver highlighted the difference between Ferguson Mayor James Knowles' depiction of the town as a place where everyone gets along and there are no issues with race to that of the town's citizens, many of whom described police harassment, racial profiling and more. As Oliver rightly pointed out, no one should ever say their town is free from racial issues because that's never been true of anywhere on Earth. This is a just another dumb thing people who have never experienced racism personally spout off when they can't think of anything better to say. "OH NO, EVERYONE GETS ALONG HERE, WE DON'T HAVE ISSUES WITH RACE." Shut the ever-loving fuck up, please.
"If you're white in Ferguson you would need to be snorting cocaine directly off your dashboard to get stopped by the police," Oliver said. He referred to police as "ludicrously aggressive" and dressed "like they are about to launch an assault on Fallujah. ("If they want to blend in with their surrounding, they should be dressed as a Dollar Store.") He described the ridiculous over-militarization of local police forces in small community by highlighting the town of Keene, New Hampshire which was able procure a federal grant for a Bearcat for its police force by citing the possibility of a terrorist attack on its "annual Pumpkin Festival."
"Good luck out maneuvering that, teenagers with baseball bats," said Oliver. "Unless you live in downtown Kabul, there is no practical need for anything like that...If you have all of this equipment, it's going to go to your head." But it's not just about changing what police look like, because"that would just change the optics," Oliver said. "The substance of the problem would still be there."
Finally, Oliver called out Missouri's governor Jay Nixon, whose response to the situation was to declare a state of emergency in Ferguson on Saturday. "Oh perfect,"Oliver said. "So you took a community tired of being treated as criminals and imprisoned them all in their own houses for a night. And in doing so, employed the tone of a pissed off vice principal trying to restore order at an assembly."
In Gov. Nixon's defense, he's probably still upset about having to cancel his appearance at the state fair.