June 03, 2020 | By Hopeton O’Connor Dennie |
Speaking at a virtual town hall hosted by My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, President Obama gave his first on-camera statement regarding George Floyd’s death and the subsequent nationwide protests that have followed. The statements were aired live on TV networks around the world. Here are a few of his words:
“We have seen in the last several weeks, last few months, the kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything i’ve seen in my lifetime.”
Is how the 44th President of the United States of America started his statements. He continued …
“To those families who have been directly affected by tragedy, please know that Michelle and I grieve with you and hold you in our prayers. We’re committed to creating a more just nation in memory of your sons and daughters”
“Our nation and the world are still in the midst of a global pandemic thats exposed the vulnerabilities of our health system but also the disparate treatment and as a consequence the disparate impact that exists in our healthcare system, the unequal investment, the biases, that have led to a disproportionate number of infections and loss of life in communities of colour. ”
“In a lot of ways what has happened over the last several weeks is challenges and structural problems here in the United States have been thrown into high relief. They’re the outcomes not just of the immediate moments in time but their the results of a long history of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining and institutionalized racism that to often had been the plague this original sin of our society.”
” In some ways, as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been they also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends. They offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle them, to take them on, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideas.”
“Part of whats made me so hopeful is the fact that so many young people have been galvanized and activated and motivated and mobilized because historically, so much of the progress that we’ve made in our society has been by young people.”
“Dr. King was a young man when he got involved, Cesar Chavez was a young man, Malcolm X was a young man”
“When sometimes i feel despair, I just see what’s happening with young people all across the country and the talent and the voice and sophistication that they’re displaying It gives me feel optimistic”
Speaking directly to the Black Community he said:
” I want to speak directly to the young men and women of colour in this country…. “I want you to know that you matter , I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter”
Speaking on policing and police reform he said:
” I want to acknowledge the folks in law enforcement that share the goals of reimagining police”
“When I was in office I created a task force on 21st century policing in the wake of the tragic killing of Michael Brown.”
” That report showcased a range of solutions and strategies that were proven”
“Most of the reforms that need to take place is done at the local level.”
“The reform has to take place in more than 19,000 American municipalities, more than 18,000 local enforcement jurisdictions”
“We need to be clear about where change is going to happen and how to bring about that change”
“It is mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs …. its district attorneys and state attorneys that decide weather to investigate police misconduct”
“I’ve been hearing a little bit of chatter on the internet about voting vs protest, politics and participation vs civil disobedience and direct action. This is not an either – or. This is a both – and”
Concluding Barack Obama explained what can we do
1) Implement those evidence based reforms that were recommended by the 21st century policing task force which will build trust, save lives and not increase crime.
2) Every Mayor and local officials should review use of force policies with members of their community. Mayors, county executives and others who are in positions of power should treat this as a priority issue.
3) Every city should be a my brothers keepers community. My brothers keeper communities commit to reduce the barriers and expand opportunity for boys and young men of colour through programs and policy reforms and public private partnerships.
He finished with his final comment.
“Although I was very young when you had riots and protests and assassinations and discord back in the 60s …. i know enough about that history to say there is something different … you look at those protests and that was a far more representative cross section of America out on the streets peacefully protesting and who felt moved to do something because of the injustices they had seen.” That didn’t exist back in the 60’s. That type of broad coalition.”
You can view the entire speech below.