After a night that saw a police precinct set ablaze, former President Barack Obama released a statement on the death of Minnesota man George Floyd at the hands of police. Obama called on Americans to “work together to create a ‘new normal.'”
The statement is the first time that the former president has made a public remark about Floyd’s death since a video of a white police officer kneeling on his neck went viral and sparked outrage. The officer has since been fired, though charges have not been filed.
Obama wrote, “I want to share some of the conversations that I’ve had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota.”
He went on to share an email from somebody who he identified as “an African-American businessman” who told him “I cried when I saw that video.”
“It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system or jogging down the street or just watching birds in a park.”
He added, “This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
Of Floyd’s death and the aftermath, Obama wrote, “It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done.”
He continued, “But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”
My statement on the death of George Floyd: pic.twitter.com/Hg1k9JHT6R— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 29, 2020
Biden wrote, “This is not abstract: a black reporter was arrested while doing his job this morning, while the white police officer who killed George Floyd remains free. I am glad swift action was taken, but this, to me, says everything.”
This is not abstract: a black reporter was arrested while doing his job this morning, while the white police officer who killed George Floyd remains free. I am glad swift action was taken, but this, to me, says everything.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 29, 2020
President Donald Trump and Biden both said that they would address the nation, separately, on Friday.