Barack Obama Responds To George Floyd's Death: 'This Shouldn't Be Normal'

The former president said he feels the same anguish that millions of others do over the killing of another unarmed Black man.

Former President Barack Obama on Friday spoke out against the death of George Floyd, saying he shares the same anguish that millions of other Americans feel.

“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” Obama said in a statement. “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.”

Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man, died Monday after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the street with his knee. Floyd repeatedly pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” The incident was captured on video and has since sparked nationwide outrage.

“It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us,” Obama said. “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.”

The last two examples he shared appear to reference Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man shot and killed by two white men while jogging in February, and Christian Cooper, the Black man who was bird-watching when a white woman called the cops on him this week.

The Minneapolis Police Department has fired the four officers involved in Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin, the officer who pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, was arrested Friday.

The case is in the hands of Minnesota authorities, Obama said, but there’s work that all Americans need to do.

“[I]t falls on all of us,” he said, “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.”

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