Dave Chappelle addressed George Floyd’s death and ongoing protests against police brutality in a surprise Netflix special called “8:46.” The title is a reference to the amount of time that ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck before he later died at a hospital.
The special aired on Netflix and YouTube on Friday morning (June 12). An introductory note from Chappelle read, “Normally I wouldn’t show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand.” Throughout the special’s 27-minute duration, the comedian spoke extensively about Floyd’s death and applauded the police reform movement spurred by international protesters.
Chappelle revealed that he had avoided watching the viral video of Floyd’s fatal arrest for days, knowing he wouldn’t be able to “unsee it.” When he did watch it, he explained the effect the clip had on him, adding that the only other time he’d heard an adult man cry out for his mother was when his own father died.
“This man kneeled on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Can you imagine that?” Chappelle yelled to the crowd. “This kid thought he was going to die. He knew he was going to die. He called for his dead mother. I’ve only seen that once before in my life. My father, on his deathbed, called for his grandmother. When I watched that tape, I understood that man knew he was gonna die.”
“He said ‘Please.’ I can’t tell you, as a man, watching another man go through something like that, what it make you feel like,” he continued. “I didn’t watch the tape for a week. When I finally watched it I understood — nobody’s going home. Everybody who sees this is going to be furious.”
The special marked Chappelle’s first performance in 87 days and — he noted — one of the country’s first performances. The show was held outdoors in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where the audience could be seen sitting in socially-distanced seats and wearing masks.
Watch Chappelle’s “8:46” special below.