Barack Obama has spoken out against the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, insisting that racially-targeted killings in the United States ‘cannot be “normal” in 2020’ and calling on Americans to work for a better future.
The former president issued a statement on Twitter urging the Minnesota authorities to ‘ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly’.
He also asked ‘that justice is ultimately done.’
Shortly after his tweet, it was confirmed that Derek Chauvin – the former police officer who knelt on Floyd during his arrest – had been taken into custody.
Barack Obama has spoken out against the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, insisting that racially-targeted killings in the United States ‘cannot be “normal” in 2020’ and calling on Americans to work for a better future
George Floyd, 46, died after Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck while arresting him on Monday
Barack Obama on Friday responded to the death of George Floyd, saying America needed to think carefully about what it wanted to be as a nation, and work together for racial equality. Pictured is a mural tribute to the 46-year-old Floyd, who was killed on Monday
Trump’s tweet, in the early hours of Friday, was flagged by Twitter as ‘glorifying violence’
Obama’s words stand in sharp contrast to those of President Donald Trump, who has focused instead on the three nights of riots that marred protests in the city.
While Trump has said that looters dishonor the life of Floyd, and suggested sending in the National Guard to quell the violence, Obama used his statement to address the wider issue of racial inequality plaguing the United States.
George Floyd told Derek Chauvin during his arrest on Monday that he couldn’t breathe
He referenced the February murder of Ahmaud Arbery, shot dead while jogging unarmed in Georgia, and the racism this week of Amy Cooper, a white woman who called police on black birdwatcher Christian Cooper when he asked her to put her dog on a lead in Central Park.
‘It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us,’ Obama wrote.
‘But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully and maddeningly “normal” – whether it’s while dealing with the healthcare system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.
‘This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal”.
‘If we want our kids to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.’
Floyd’s death on Monday sparked three nights of rioting in Minneapolis and protests against police brutality in other U.S. cities.
Floyd, 46, died after Derek Chauvin, a police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than five minutes while he was handcuffed and on the ground.
On Friday John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, announced that Chauvin had been taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
It was not immediately clear what Chauvin could face.
Trump has responded to the unrest in Minnesota by calling railing against looters and rioters, and calling in the National Guard.
On Friday he announced that they had arrived in the city of Minneapolis, and tweeted: ‘George Floyd will not have died in vain. Respect his memory!!!’
Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that the National Guard was in Minneapolis to quell protests
He has attacked the Democrat mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, for being ‘weak’.
Frey responded that Trump is seeking to shift the blame.
‘Let me say this: weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else at a time of crisis,’ Frey said.
‘Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell. This is a difficult time, yes, but you better be damn sure that we’re going to get through this.’
Protesters burn an Arby’s fast food restaurant near the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct, on Thursday night. Riots have plunged the city into chaos since Tuesday
Fire engulfs a small shop, covered with anti-police graffiti in Minneapolis