Dave Chappelle police chokehold story: Comedian tells of experience on a movie set.

Dave Chappelle Told a Personal Story About Being Choked by the Police

Dave Chappelle Told a Personal Story About Being Choked by the Police

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Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 12 2014 3:06 PM

Dave Chappelle Told a Personal Story About Being Choked by the Police

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Dave Chappelle.

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The subject of police brutality continues to resonate following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. An old Richard Pryor bit about how police “choke niggers to death” was shared widely last week; Chris Rock’s new film, Top Five, includes a scene in which a black man is put in a chokehold by the NYPD. Back in July, Spike Lee edited together footage of Eric Garner’s death with the killing of Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing.

Now Dave Chappelle has contributed his own story, as relayed by Jarvis DeBerry of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who recently attended a stand-up show featuring Chappelle and Hannibal Buress in New Orleans. The performance had a strict “no recording” policy, but according to DeBerry, Chappelle talked about working on his “first movie” in that city, portraying a mugger. “The movie set was surrounded with police tape,” DeBerry relays, and Chappelle, dressed for the character, “ducked under it. Then a police officer set upon him and immediately started choking him.”

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DeBerry points out that Chappelle had the role of a mugger in Undercover Blues (1993), “part of which was filmed in New Orleans.” Chappelle was not yet out of his teens at the time. Apparently a woman working on set screamed that Chapelle was part of the production, and the police officer relented. Here’s DeBerry:

The weirdest thing about being a black man being choked by the police, Chappelle said, is that you don't even wonder why it’s happening. You just think, he said, “OK, here we go.”

At the same show, Buress said he’d been living in New Orleans for a while, hiding out from Bill Cosby. You can read the rest of DeBerry’s story at Nola.com.

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.