CLEVELAND- “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart poked fun at the Cleveland police union during Wednesday night’s show.
On Sunday, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt, reading “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III.” Rice, 12, was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer, responding to reports of a male with a gun. Crawford, 22, was shot to death by police at an Ohio Walmart.
Hawkins’ quiet statement did not sit well with Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association President Jeff Follmer.
“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field,” Follmer said in a statement.
That’s when the host of the Comedy Central show chimed in.
“Stick to what they know best? Football? We’re talking about the Cleveland Browns, right?” Stewart joked at the expense of the 7-7 Browns. “It’s not as if a conversation isn’t warranted about the Cleveland Police Department, by T-shirt or otherwise.”
Stewart then referenced the recent report from the U.S. Department of Justice that said the Cleveland Division of Police engages “in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force.” The investigation followed the 2012 Cleveland police chase that ended with the shooting death of two people.
“I guess the only difference is when football players use excessive force, they get penalized… Fifteen yards, am I wrong?” Steward said. “And if that football player disrespected the officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old holding a BB gun, within 2 seconds of rolling up on him, then you should hear what that officer’s former employer said about him.”
Cleveland Officer Timothy Loehmann, who police said shot Rice, was previously employed by the Independence Police Department. His personnel records said he did not show the maturity to be an officer and that he became weepy during a state gun course.
“The Daily Show” segment, which started out by addressing other national protest, concluded with Hawkins’ response to the police union’s request for an apology.
“A call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anyone. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology,” Hawkins said.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams later said the views of union president Follmer do not represent the views of the division.
Follmer told FOX 8 he had no comment on Stewart’s remarks.