Politics

Barack Obama says death of George Floyd at Minneapolis police hands 'shouldn't be normal in 2020 America'

Key Points
  • Former President Barack Obama said the death of another black man at the hands of police, and the continued disparate treatment of other blacks and minorities in the United States, "shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America."
  • "It can't be 'normal,'" Obama wrote in a Twitter post that mentioned conversations with his friends since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
  • Obama's tweet referenced a widely publicized and controversial incident in which an unarmed black man in Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery, was fatally shot by one of two white men chasing him as he ran down a street.
Citizens, came to Mauer Park, to inspect and to take photos in front of the mural of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis of USA on Monday night, on May 29, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.
Abdulhamid Hosbas | Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama said Friday that the death of black man at the hands of the Minneapolis police, and the continued disparate treatment of other blacks and minorities in the United States, "shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America."

"It can't be 'normal,'" Obama wrote in a Twitter post.

"If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better," wrote Obama, who is the only black person elected to the White House.

The tweeted statement came as protests continued in Minneapolis over the death Monday of George Floyd, who in a video of his arrest in Minneapolis can be heard telling cops, repeatedly, "I can't breathe."

A white officer, Derek Chauvin, held Floyd down by pressing a knee into his neck.

Chauvin and the other three officers involved in the incident were fired Tuesday. On Friday afternoon, after Obama's tweet, Chauvin was arrested in connection with Floyd's death.

Obama's tweet referenced a widely publicized and controversial incident in February in which an unarmed black man in Georgia named Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot by one of two white men chasing him as he ran down a street.

The post also cited an incident from last weekend in which a white woman in Manhattan called police and said that she was being threatened by a black man who had asked her to leash her dog as he bird-watched in Central Park.

Obama wrote that he received an email from an African American businessman who told him that, "I cried when I saw that video" of a cop using his knee to hold Floyd in place by the neck.

"It broke me down," the businessman wrote, according to Obama. "The 'knee on the neck' is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help. People don't care. Truly tragic."

Obama wrote that he and "millions of others" shared an "anguish" over the death of Floyd and other such incidents.

"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, 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."

"This shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America."

Obama wrote that it will be largely up to Minnesota officials to make sure that Floyd's death is fully investigated, and "that justice is ultimately done."

"But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day  — to work together to create a 'new normal' in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts."

Earlier Friday, Joe Biden, who was Obama's vice president, blasted President Donald Trump for a tweet that threatened to send National Guard troops to deal with protesters in Minneapolis and warned that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee this year, said he was "furious" over Trump "calling for violence against American citizens."

"Enough," wrote Biden.