Barack Obama speaks about police brutality — George Floyd death

Brenda Watkins
June 4, 2020

Obama has previously addressed the death of George Floyd and the protests on social media, but this will be his first on-camera remarks since Floyd's death on May 25.

"The bottom line:"[W] hen sometimes I feel despair, I just see what's happening with young people all across the country", Obama said. And it makes me feel optimistic.

Obama compared the events and protests of the past few weeks to the chaos of the 1960s, during the height of the civil rights movement.

He also commended those in law enforcement who want to see policing reforms in the U.S, and urged people to vote as well as participate in demonstrations: "This is not an either/or". "It makes me feel as if, you know, this country's gonna get better".

Referring to the protests over the killing of Floyd and the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, President Obama said in a speech that these events represent "the kinds of epic our country that are as profound as anything I have seen in my lifetime".

"Although all of us have been feeling pain, uncertainty, disruption, some folks have been feeling it more than others".

In his first remarks since Mr Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25, Mr Obama said the USA had been experiencing a "tragic", "difficult" and "uncertain" time as police and protesters clashed in cities across the United States. I want you to know that you matter.

"You're a vital part of the conversation, and change is going to require everybody's participation".

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Obama also called for the end of chokeholds, saying: "That's not what we do". "And they offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle them, to take them on, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideals".

"This is not an either-or". "We have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that can be implemented".

Obama also urged "every mayor in the country to review your use of force policies" with their communities and "commit to report on planned reforms" before prioritizing their implementation.

While the former president said that the current protests stem from a "legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices", he condemned the vandalism, looting and violence that has, in part, overshadowed the more peaceful aspects of the protests in many cities. And who felt moved to do something. That didn't exist back in the 1960s, that kind of broad coalition.

"Despite (some violence), a majority of Americans still think those protests were justified".

His comments came in a virtual roundtable meeting with a program called My Brother's Keeper, which he founded in response to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014, to reduce racial inequalities.

"That is the progress that has been made". It doesn't mean the problem has been solved.

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