Nunchuks and Nae Nae: Stephen Colbert Offers Cops Excessive-Force Alternatives

The 'Late Night' host brought his classic satirical spin to the problem of police brutality.
Nov 3, 2015·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Last week a shocking video of a black teenage girl in South Carolina being dragged from her desk and slammed to the classroom floor put the use of excessive force by law enforcement back in the spotlight. So it’s no wonder that Monday night on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert decided to address the issue—in classic Colbert style.

As seen in the clip above, Colbert told viewers that he believes most officers are honest and hardworking, yet at the same time, “black people aren’t imagining this stuff.” But Colbert isn’t one to take sides in a law enforcement–versus–Black Lives Matter debate. Instead, he decided to share how “some police have begun to find positive ways to de-escalate tensions in their communities.”

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No, Colbert didn’t show officers being trained in community policing tactics or cultural sensitivity. Instead he shared some footage of an officer in Washington, D.C., who broke up a street fight—and defused the anger of a teen girl—by doing the Nae Nae.

“The officer didn’t bust a perp—she busted a move,” quipped Colbert.

“That’s right. A police officer ended a tense situation with a dance-off. No one was arrested, but somebody did get served!” Colbert continued. “This is a great example for all law enforcement: Before resorting to violence, first just try to twerk things out.”

But because “not every cop on the beat can move to the beat,” said Colbert, there’s always the example of the Anderson, California, police department. In an effort to use less force, officers in the small Northern California town have added plastic nunchuks to their equipment.

“Yes, nunchuks—a crime-fighting tool already proven effective by our nation’s Ninja Turtles,” Colbert said.

But before you start to imagine all the ways that could go wrong, keep in mind that these officers have received 16 hours of training on how to use the weapon to restrain a subject.

“To put that into perspective,” said Colbert, “a California massage therapist has to take 500 hours of training, and it’s 516 hours if you want to massage somebody with nunchuks.”