Former President Barack Obama will address the death of George Floyd for the first time on camera in a virtual town hall Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET.
The town hall, hosted by a branch of the Obama Foundation called the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, will focus on “Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence.”
Former Attorney General Eric Holder will join the president, along with a number of others. The discussion will center on recent tragedies such as the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery as well as racial bias in the criminal justice system and the steps needed for change. It will be livestreamed at Obama.org.
Obama last week said the death of Floyd at the hands of a Minnesota police officer “shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” and later laid out plans for change.
OBAMA LAYS OUT IDEAS FOR ‘REAL CHANGE’ FOLLOWING GEORGE FLOYD PROTESTS
In a Medium post, Obama countered the argument made by some protesters that demonstrations will facilitate more societal change than voting.
“I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time,” he wrote. “I couldn’t disagree more.”
Obama added: “The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable… But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.”
While the former president said that the current protests stem from a “legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices,” he roundly condemned the vandalism, looting and violence that has, in part, overshadowed the more peaceful aspects of the protests in many cities.
“The small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause,” Obama wrote.
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He added: “So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.”