Live

Watch CBSN Live

Obama comments on George Floyd: "This shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America"

Protests intensify over George Floyd's death
Protests intensify over George Floyd's death 14:44

Former President Barack Obama commented on the death on George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody last week after an officer pressed a knee on his neck. Protests have erupted in Minneapolis in response to Floyd's death.

Mr. Obama referenced the coronavirus pandemic, saying that while Americans want to go back to "normal," Floyd's death "shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America."

In his statement, Mr. Obama shared parts of conversations he has had with friends in response to Floyd's death. He quoted part of an email he received from a middle-aged African American businessman.

"Dude I gotta tell you the George Floyd incident in Minnesota hurt. I cried when I saw that video. It broke me down. 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," the email to Mr. Obama said.

He also said that a friend had shared an original song from 12-year-old Keedron Bryant about the realities of being a young black man in America.

"The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same. It's shared by me and millions of others," Mr. Obama said in his statement.

"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 the park," Mr. Obama continued. "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."

Mr. Obama said Minnesota officials must reckon with the circumstances around Floyd's death, but that it was incumbent upon everyone to make a "new normal" free of injustice.

"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 of our hearts," Mr. Obama said.

President Trump on Thursday said he felt "very, very badly" about Floyd's death. However, his language got more aggressive on Thursday evening.

"These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen," he tweeted. "Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"

Twitter flagged Mr. Trump's tweet for violating site rules by "glorifying violence."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue