Former President Barack Obama urged Americans on Wednesday to use the urgency of the George Floyd protests to spark “real change” in the United States. His comments come after more than a week of demonstrations sparked by George Floyd‘s death in Minneapolis.
What We Know:
- “Let me begin by acknowledging that although all of us have been feeling pain, uncertainty disruption, some folks have been feeling it more than others. Most of all, the pain that’s been experienced by the families of George and Breonna, Ahmaud, and Tony and Dreasjon, and too many others to mention.”
- Obama urged local leaders to take immediate action, as well as Americans to make “real change” in wake of George Floyd’s death.
- “In some ways as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends,” Obama said. “And they offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle, to take them on, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideals.”
- His remarks were part of a broader conversation about proposed reforms to the nation’s law enforcement agencies, and how to improve trust between police and the communities they protect. The former president offered a direct message to young people of color who have “witnessed too much violence and too much death,” often at the hands of those tasked with protecting them.
- He added that he hopes that they feel hopeful even as they feel angry, because they “have the power to make things better and you have helped to make the entire country feel as if this is something that’s got to change”.
- The event, “Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence,” was hosted by My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program established by the Obama Foundation. It also included Mr. Obama’s former attorney general Eric Holder Jr., executive director of Color of Change Rashad Robinson, activist and educator Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Minneapolis City Council member Phillips Cunningham.
While Wednesday’s event marked the former president’s first statements on camera addressing the protests, he did write in a Medium post on Monday that the ongoing demonstrations “represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system” in this country.