Will Smith has said he remembers being “called [the n-word]" by police in Philadelphia on "more than 10 occasions”.
The actor spoke with political commentator and activist Angela Rye about the Black Lives Mattermovement and the state of policing in the United States on Rye’s podcast, On One with Angela Rye, which aired on Tuesday 6 June.
“I got stopped frequently so I understand what it’s like to be in those circumstances with the police," Smith recalled.
He recalled witnessing the “disparities” in the relationship that white citizens had with police compared to people of colour.
“I grew up under Mayor Rizzo,” he pointed out. “He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor, and he had an iron hand.”
Frank Rizzo’s time as police commissioner and mayor was documented in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series in The Philadelphia Inquirer, about the marked rise in racially motivated police brutality that occurred during his tenure.
Addressing the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, Smith encouraged protestors to be “peaceful”.
“Powerful protests put a mirror to the demonic imagery of your oppressor. And the more still you are in your peaceful protests, the more the mirror is for your oppressor – for the world to see and for them to see themselves,” he said.
Smith said that the anger of protestors was “justified under oppression” but warned, “You got to be careful not to be consumed by your own rage.”
The video of Smith and Rye’s conversation is available to watch now on Smith’s Youtube channel.