Former President Barack Obama has released a statement on the death of George Floyd and is pleading for Americans to open their eyes to the ongoing racial injustice that plagues the country.
Obama shared his statement via social media, including excerpts of emails and messages he received following the news of Floyd’s death. George Floyd was a 46-year-old Black man who was killed after a police officer suffocated Floyd by pinning his knee down on his neck. The news of his death has sparked nationwide outcry and protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Floyd resided.
For the beginning of his message, Obama recounts two recent conversations regarding Floyd’s death that he’s had with friends. Obama explained that though the two people expressed their grief in different ways, their overall emotions regarding the tragedy carried the same message: Black Americans are exhausted, tired, and ashamed of how little progress has been made to protect Black lives in the United States.
“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,” read Obama’s statement, which also acknowledged the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and a recent racially heightened threat in Central Park between a white woman and a Black bird watcher.
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal,'” continued Obama. “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
Obama ended his message calling for justice for Floyd’s death and reiterating that violent acts of racism can no longer be tolerated in America and beyond.
“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,” declared Obama. “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.”
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