Former President Barack Obama on Friday weighed in on the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, asserting racism in the United States is “tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal.’”
“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 in a statement shared to social media. “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.”
My statement on the death of George Floyd: pic.twitter.com/Hg1k9JHT6R
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 29, 2020
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal,’” the former president added. “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must do better.”
“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,” he concluded.
Absent from Obama’s statement was any condemnation of riots and looting occurred in Minnesota in the last 48 hours.
Protests over the police-involved death of Floyd continued well into the morning Friday after a third night of violence in Minneapolis, while similar disturbances broke out in Louisville and other parts of the country.
Late Thursday, demonstrators set fire to a police precinct building in the Minneapolis neighborhood where Floyd died Monday after he was restrained by a Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck.
— Zach Boyden-Holmes (@Boydenphoto) May 29, 2020
BREAKING: The third precinct police station is on fire. Rioters have taken over pic.twitter.com/AJg4jDr9Tz
— Max Nesterak (@maxnesterak) May 29, 2020
The Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct was set on fire on Thursday night. pic.twitter.com/J6vjZKoCeQ
— Carlos Gonzalez (@CarlosGphoto) May 29, 2020
Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a grocery store.
The precinct building had been evacuated by order of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who said he was unwilling to endanger lives to protect the building.
“I understand the importance of a precinct,” he said. “[But] the symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers, or the public. We could not risk serious injury to anyone and we will continue to patrol the third precinct entirely.”
At 4:30 a.m. Friday, protesters and looters still were out on the streets in the neighborhood as several nearby commercial buildings burned unchecked.
Firefighters arrived shortly afterward, accompanied by state police in riot gear, who began to arrest people in the area, including a CNN reporter and crew members.
In a pair of tweets, President Donald Trump condemned Frey’s response to riots, threatening to deploy the National Guard unless law and order is restored.
I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right,” the president tweeted.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. 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,” he added.
….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
The UPI contributed to this report.