Justin Sylvester, the co-host of E!’s “Daily Pop,” walked off the set of his own show to stand in solidarity with Black Americans who have been victims of police brutality and systemic racism.
On Thursday’s episode of the entertainment news show, the hosts, including Carissa Culiner and Morgan Stewart, discussed the protests that have erupted due to the August 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old unarmed Black father.
“You know, for me, it’s kind of sad that even after Breonna Taylor, after George Floyd, after Trayvon Martin, we are still here and still having to take a stand against this,” Sylvester said, naming a number of Black men and women who unjustly lost their lives.
“And what’s even sadder is, what are people doing when we’re not watching? What are you doing when there’s not somebody sitting there with a camera?” he continued. “It’s really upsetting that the only way we can get this on the news, or get this out, is if we take a stand; if we get up and we walk out of a room.”
That’s when Sylvester took off his mic and stepped away from the camera.
“So with that being said, I love you guys from the bottom of my heart, but as a Black man, I have to take a stand and I’m going to stand in solidarity with Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McClain,” he told his co-hosts before exiting.
In an interview with “E! News” after the broadcast, Sylvester said he was inspired by sports commentator Kenny Smith — who, too, walked off the set of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” on Wednesday night — to take a stand against injustice.
“When I saw Kenny Smith walk off set, it started a conversation I don’t think many people were having about Jacob Blake,” Sylvester told the news channel. “And if Kenny Smith can inspire his audience to start those uncomfortable conversations, I should be brave enough to do the same... no matter what the consequences or backlash may be.”
Though Sylvester said it feels as if “we are back at the starting line and it’s exhausting as ----,” he will continue “to be the change” he wants to see.
“And that doesn’t happen by being defeated... It happens with speaking up and starting the conversation,” he added. “My voice won’t bring them back, but if I scream loud enough, it will hopefully prevent it from happening in the future.”
On Sunday, August 23, white Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey was caught on video firing seven shots at Blake, who was seen trying to get back into his car. Blake’s attorney Ben Crump later said his client was “trying to deescalate a domestic incident” and walked away from the cops in order to “check on his children.” Crump also said Blake’s three sons were in the car at the time of the event, and witnessed their father get shot multiple times.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday, Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., said his son is paralyzed from the waist down.
On Thursday, Blake’s uncle Justin told CNN that Jacob was handcuffed to his hospital bed at a medical facility in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
“This is an insult to injury,” Justin told the news channel. “He is paralyzed and can’t walk and they have him cuffed to the bed. Why?”
The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation is currently leading the probe into the incident.