Brow Beat

John Oliver Examines the Past, Present, and Future of Policing in America

On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver turned his attention to the sickening ouroboros of police brutality against protesters who oppose police brutality playing out across the nation. Abandoning the show’s usual format, Oliver dedicated the entire episode to just one thing: the police.

Over the course of 33 minutes split roughly into the past, present, and future of policing in America, Oliver explained how white supremacy is baked into local law enforcement, whose roots involve returning runaways to slavery. Today, police officers armed with billion-dollar budgets and military-grade weaponry are not only trained to believe that they are at war with the people they’re meant to protect, but they’re also tasked with what Oliver described as a “massive array of complicated duties that they aren’t equipped to handle, making them very much the Jared Kushners of local officials.”

Kushner jab notwithstanding, Oliver mostly deserted jokes this week in favor of solemnly describing the obstacles to law enforcement reform, like qualified immunity and police unions. He ended the episode with a video featuring YA author Kimberly Jones speaking passionately on how the looting that so many have decried is a symptom of a broken system, not the cause.