March 13, 2017

One of the most beloved and successful comedians, Dave Chappelle seems to be pretty okay with the public eye once again. There are many fans who missed him after he suddenly quit the scene in 2005.

It would seem that, for the first time in history, we have someone who says he quit a high-profile job to spend more time with his family . . . and meant it.

Dave Chappelle certainly seems like a man of principles and integrity. The fact that he has returned to his hometown, Yellow Springs, Ohio and won't sit back and watch injustice happen is a pretty strong indicator of his character.

Yellow Springs is surrounded by Trump-supporting municipalities; but this 'hippie' town has much more of a liberal mindset and voting record. However, lately, the police have not been reflective of that mindset, and the militarization of the YSPD is unsettling, especially to Dave Chappelle.

At a city council meeting to try to select a new chief of police, the small towns' most famous resident voiced his opinion that a new chief of police should align him or herself with the mindset of the community he or she serves. He raised a good point: how could they possibly find someone from within that pool of officers who wouldn't be partial to the latest aggressive policing tactics? He begged the council to find someone for the job that 'matches the culture of the town.'

What sparked this controversy? A New Years Eve that was atypical of the usually laid back mood of the town. Unusually aggressive policing did not sit well with many of Yellow Springs' 3500 residents, including the famous comedian. The chief resigned on January 3.

After midnight,

Usually the police allow them (revelers) to linger for about 45 minutes before walking through the crowd and asking everyone to call it a night, residents said. But this time, they said, officers began clearing the street just eight minutes into the new year. And they did so by driving their cruisers through the crowd, lights flashing and horns buzzing.

The result of the chaos that ensued after tensions rose resulted in a 29 year-old Black man being aggressively and, as many have reported, unnecessarily tasered. The uproar forced the chief to resign. Chappelle sensed an unusually tense mood and left the area before the commotion.

What the police saw as a justified arrest, many witnesses considered unnecessary police escalation. But the scene, so shocking to many of the city’s white residents, was less jarring to African-American residents, who make up a little more than 13 percent of the population.

Village leaders in Yellow Springs, which is roughly 81 percent white, said one reason they were so shocked by the New Year’s debacle was that they had been taking complaints against the police seriously and had already been working toward making changes.

Chappelle put it simply and perfectly:

“In this Trump era, here’s an opportunity to show everybody that local politics reigns supreme. We can make our corner of the world outstanding.”

Yes indeed. Great way to show how to get involved and make difference, Mr. Chappelle. We salute you!

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