Barack Obama releases a statement on George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after his neck was pinned down by a white police officer’s knee.
Friday on Twitter, the 44th president of the United States began his message by reciting an e-mail that was sent to him by one of his friends, identified as a “middle-aged African American businessman.”
“Dude I gotta tell you the George Floyd incident in Minnesota hurt,” the e-mail began. “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 former Illinois state senator said a different friend referenced the viral song from 12-year-old Keedron Bryant, who sings in the heartbreaking tune, “I’m a young black man, doing all that I can to stand. Oh, but when I look around and I see what’s being done to my kind every day, I’m being hunted as prey… I just want to live. God, protect me, I just want to live.”
“The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same,” Obama remarked. “It’s shared by me and millions of others.”
Though Obama notes that many Americans are trying “to just get back to normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic, they must never forget the everyday struggles of those, particularly people of color, who are just trying to live their lives.
“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,” he said — referencing Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger who was allegedly murdered in Georgia by a white father and son, and Christian Cooper, a birder who was accused of threatening a white woman and her dog in Central Park.
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal,’” Obama exclaimed. “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
In the case of George Floyd, Obama says officials in Minnesota must “ensure that the circumstances surrounding [his] death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done.”
My statement on the death of George Floyd: pic.twitter.com/Hg1k9JHT6R— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 29, 2020
After Obama posted his statement, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that Derek Chauvin — the officer who used his knee against Floyd — has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin may face other charges down the line.
Freeman added that the three other officers involved — who, along with Chauvin, have been terminated from their jobs — may also face charges.