Barack Obama responds to George Floyd death saying 'it should not happen in 2020'

29 May 2020, 17:52

Barack Obama has shared a statement
Barack Obama has shared a statement. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

Barack Obama has responded to the death of George Floyd, saying it "should not be normal in 2020 America".

The former president released a statement on Friday, saying that being treated differently because of race is "painfully, maddeningly normal" for millions of Americans.

George Floyd, 46, died on Monday, after officers stopped him believing him to match the description of a man who had forged a document at a local Deli.

Hundreds took to the streets of the city on Tuesday demanding justice for Mr Floyd, after video shared online of the arrest showed him pleading with an officer who was kneeling on his neck.

A handcuffed-Mr Floyd can be herd pleading with the officer: "Please, please, please, I can't breathe. Please, man".

But the officer remained kneeling on his neck for around eight minutes, even after Mr Floyd became motionless.

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'".

The former president cites examples of incidents when people have been treated different because of their race — "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 continues: "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."

In the statement, Obama also shares parts of the conversations he has had with friends in the days since the footage emerged.

He said an African American businessman told him how the incident hurt him and how he cried and broke down when he saw the video.

"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 man wrote.

On Friday, troops were deployed to Minneapolis as protestors continued to clash with police following a third night of violence.

Donald Trump had already threatened to deploy the military to Minneapolis to "shoot" rioters.

On Friday, the president tweeted: "The National Guard has arrived on the scene. They are in Minneapolis and fully prepared. George Floyd will not have died in vain. Respect his memory!!!"

Photos show the National Guard on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul as protests continue after the death of George Floyd which has caused widespread destruction and fires.

On Thursday, Demonstrators broke into a police station in the city's 3rd precinct after police officers abandoned the building "in the interest of the safety of our personnel" according to a spokesperson.

A livestream video showed protesters breaking in, setting the building ablaze and igniting fireworks as fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran.

The station has become the scene of numerous demonstrations by those angered at the video showing 46-year-old George Floyd's arrest.