Will Smith Says He’s Been Called the N-Word by Police ‘On More Than 10 Occasions’

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 15: Actor Will Smith is seen in attendance prior to the middleweight championship bout between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena on September 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Actor Will Smith says that he has been called the N-word by police officers “on more than ten occasions” while growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“I grew up in Philadelphia. I grew up under Mayor [Frank] Rizzo. [He] went from chief of police to becoming the mayor, and he had an iron hand,” said Will Smith in a recent virtual interview with CNN political commentator Angela Rye. “I’ve been called nigger by the cops in Philly on more than ten occasions. I got stopped frequently. So I understand what it’s like to be in those circumstances with the police, to feel like you’ve been occupied, it’s an occupying force.”

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The Aladdin star also talked about how he went to a Catholic school in the suburbs, adding that when the police showed up, “white kids were happy,” but his “heart always started pounding” faster out of fear. “I understand what the disparities are in a really interesting way. White kids were happy when the cops showed up, and my heart always started pounding.”

The Bad Boys for Life star suggested that non-minorities “just can’t comprehend what it feels like” to “live in an occupied territory.”

“There’s a part of this that people who don’t grow up in that, you just can’t comprehend, you just can’t comprehend what it feels like to feel like you live in an occupied territory,” added the I am Legend actor.

At one point during the interview, Will Smith suggested that people around the world only noticed atrocities such as the death of George Floyd because they were stuck in their homes in quarantine due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. “It’s like everybody was sitting at home, looking at their devices when what felt like a new atrocity to some people, but was happening over and over again for African Americans,” said Smith. “And for this to happen in this time, for the whole world to see what we’ve been saying for hundreds of years.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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