“It is very important for us to take the momentum that has been created, as a society, as a country and say let’s use this to finally have an impact,” said Barack Obama today on the protests that have taken to the streets across the nation in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops on Memorial Day.
“You look at those protests, and that was a far more representative cross-section of America out on the streets peacefully protesting who felt moved to do something because of the injustices that they had seen,” the former President added to a nation reeling from the coronavirus, widespread economic hardship and racist brutal police violence. “That didn’t exist back in the 1960s, that kind of broad coalition,” Obama emphasized for the moment in this year of election, telling those out in the streets and elsewhere to “make people in power uncomfortable.”
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“I am urging every mayor in this country to review your use of force policies for members of your community and commit to report on planned reforms,” said the 44th POTUS in his second remarks this week on the killing of Floyd by now fired and charged cops in the Minnesota city. “We need Mayors, County Executives and others who are in positions of power to say, this is a priority, this is a specific response,” he affirmed in language similar but more strapping to the essay he published on June 1.
In what was Obama’s first on-camera statement on Floyd’s death, he also repeatedly cited the now amended 21st Century Policing Task Force report from the last years of his administration stemming from the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.
Just hours before the ex-POTUS took to the airwaves, today also saw Minnesota Attorney General upgrade the charges against ex-cop Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder in Floyd’s death and the three other officers at the scene now charged with “aiding and abetting.” If found guilty, Chauvin could spend decades behind bars. The Floyd family want Chauvin charged with first-degree murder and the life imprisonment sentence it carries.
Additionally, Obama’s words come as the self-described Eric Garner Law that seeks to ban cops from using chokeholds and excessive force on people is being reintroduced into the U.S. Senate. A body blow to the body politic at the time, Garner was killed by the NYPD in 2014 in a chokehold.
As well as streaming on the Obama Foundation’s website and YouTube page, Obama’s speech was aired live on cable newsers CNN and MSNBC as well as the online news services of CBS and ABC. Fox News Channel did not run the remarks, but local Fox stations like the one in L.A. did show it live.
“I want to speak directly to the young men and women of color in this country…who have witnessed too much violence & death,” the first African-American President also said in his approximately 15-minute speech from his Washington DC home. “Too often, that violence has come from folks who were supposed to be serving & protecting you,” the increasingly outspoken Obama noted. “Your lives matter & your dreams matter.”
“I hope you also feel hopeful even as you feel angry because you have the power to make things better – you’ve communicated a sense of urgency,” the last two-term Commander-in-Chief asserted while also expressing his and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s grief at the death of Floyd and many other young men and women of color fatally assaulted by law enforcement.
“We’re committed to the fight to creating a more just nation in the names of your sons and daughters,” Obama passionate proclaimed by also saying “I want to acknowledge the folks in law enforcement that share the goals of reimagining policing.”
As curfews and National Guard activation take place from NYC to LA, today’s virtual roundtable from the Obama Foundation featured former Attorney General Eric Holder, Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, Campaign Zero co-founder Brittany Packnett Cunningham, a very inspiring My Brother’s Keeper Youth Leader Playon Patrick and Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson.
Wednesday’s speech follow strong remarks yesterday by Obama’s Vice-President Joe Biden on Floyd’s killing, the protests and unrest that have resulted. Biden is the Democrats’ presumptive nominee and is currently leading incumbent Trump in most polls.
Obama’s successor hasn’t taken to social media yet for his usual attacks upon who occupied the White House before him, but it is only a matter of time for the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host.
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