Former U.S. president Barack Obama will address the death of George Floyd in a virtual town hall today organized by the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance during a panel discussion on law enforcement.
He will make the comments during a panel discussion on reimagining policing in the wake of continued police violence, according to the Obama Foundation website. The event starts at 5 p.m. ET.
Obama has already released several statements related to the recent death of Floyd after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee into the man’s neck for more than eight minutes, even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
“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,” Obama said on Instagram.
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
The virtual town hall comes on the same day Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison increased the charge against fired officer Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder in Floyd’s death and announced charges against the other three officers who were present, according to reports.
I know the past few months have been hard and dispiriting. But watching the heightened activism of young people makes me hopeful. And if we can keep channeling our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, this can be the moment when real change starts.
Aides said Obama will call for turning the protests over Floyd’s death into policy change and will urge specific reforms to ensure safer policing and increased trust between communities and law enforcement.
Obama is taking on an increasingly public role as the nation confronts a confluence of historic crises that has exposed deep racial and socioeconomic inequalities in America and reshaped the November election.
“We’re in a political season, but our country is also at an inflection point,” said Valerie Jarrett, a longtime friend and adviser to Obama. “President Obama is not going to shy away from that dialogue simply because he’s not in office anymore.”
My Brother’s Keeper is an initiative Obama launched to empower young minorities.