Former President George W. Bush criticized any effort to squelch protests of George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.
What We Know:
- In a statement issued Tuesday by his office in Dallas, the former Republican president said he and wife Laura Bush “are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country”.
“Yet we have resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen. It is time for America to examine our tragic failures – as we do, we will also see some of our redeeming strengths,” the statement said.
Statement by President George W. Bush pic.twitter.com/KjEolhAN6U
— George W. Bush Presidential Center (@TheBushCenter) June 2, 2020
- Bush did not refer specifically toward President Donald Trump, but he called the harassment and threats toward African American protesters, especially young men “a shocking failure”. “It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future. This tragedy – in a long series of similar tragedies – raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society? The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America – or how it becomes a better place,” Bush wrote.
- “Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions,” Bush continued. “We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means. Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress. But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.”
- In a video that went viral, Minneapolis police officer, identified as Derek Chauvin, pinned Floyd to the ground on Memorial Day after apprehending him outside a convenience store for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. As his knee was on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, Floyd could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe”.
- Protests, that began in Minnesota, have multiplied across the country and around the world. While many have featured peaceful demonstrators marching – sometimes with police officers – some have grown violent and destructive, prompting cities to establish curfews and governors to call up the National Guard.
- Former President Barack Obama published an essay Monday on Medium addressing the ongoing protests and how he thinks people can move forward. The “bottom line,” he wrote, the next moment in American history can be “a real turning point,” if “we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action”.
Read the full statement on the George W. Bush Presidential Center website.