Will Smith discussed his experiences with Philadelphia police in an interview with Angela Rye.
“I grew up under Mayor Rizzo,” Smith said. “He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor and he had an iron hand…I’ve been called n—-r by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions, right? 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.”
Smith spoke on his experiences attending a Catholic school in suburban Philadelphia. More specifically, the relationship his white classmates had to the police force.
“White kids were happy when the cops showed up, and my heart always started pounding,” he said. “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.”
In what he says is his “first real public conversation since George Floyd’s death,” Smith said he felt the gravity of this time period.
“When it happened,” Smith continued, “I immediately saw the world shifting…I could feel the shift happening, and I immediately went into a state of study,” he said. “I could feel that I was going to be called on in a way that was different than anything that had ever happened in my career and in my life, and I just wanted to be prepared to meet the seismic shift of the times.”