President Barack Obama has applauded young people for leading the fight against racism in America while calling on mayors across the country to review their ‘use-of-force policies’ and commit to reform.
The former president spoke at a virtual town hall hosted by the Obama Foundation on Wednesday amid ongoing nationwide protests following the death of black man George Floyd in Minneapolis.
During the panel discussion, titled: ‘Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence,’ Obama said the recent tragedies involving black Americans Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Floyd has thrown the nation’s ‘structural problems into high relief.’
‘In some ways, as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened,’ he said.
‘We have seen in the last several weeks, and last few months, the kind of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as I’ve seen in my lifetime.’
He acknowledged the impact of peaceful protests taking place around the country saying the demonstrations in the midst of a pandemic are a ‘far more representative cross-section of America’ than those of the 1960s.
‘There is a change in mindset that’s taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better,’ he added.
‘And that is not a consequence of speeches by politicians … that’s a direct result of the activities and organizing and mobilization and engagement of so many young people.’
Obama also spoke directly to people of color saying: ‘I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter.’
He added that they should be able to ‘live of life of joy without having to worry about what’s going to happen when you walk to the store or go for a jog and drive down the street or look at some birds at a park’ – a reference to Arbery and Christian Cooper.
The president also weighed in on an ongoing debate ‘on the internet’ about the impact of protests versus policy change and direct action.
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Source: Daily Mail