Barack Obama breaks silence on the death of George Floyd: ‘We can and must be better’

The former president issued a statement on Twitter, saying that Minnesota officials need to ensure that 'justice is ultimately done.'

President Barack Obama speaks at Goalkeepers 2017, at Jazz at Lincoln Center on September 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Former President Barack Obama is speaking out about the death of George Floyd following days of nationwide protests over police brutality.

The 44th president, 58, issued a statement on Twitter on Friday afternoon, just a few hours after President Donald Trump called for looters to be shot in a now-censored tweet.

“I want to share parts of the conversations I’ve had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota,” he began before going on to share his friends’ heartbreak over the incident.

“The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same. It’s shared by me and millions of others,” he said. “It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back 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’— 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 park.”

He continued, “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 to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”

Obama’s message offers hope in the midst of nationwide tragedy as protestors take to the streets to demand justice for Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who were both killed by the police in Minneapolis and Louisville respectively.

Several protests have turned violent, with some individuals choosing to burn down buildings and fire off shots during the commotion. The 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis was burned down on Thursday night and seven people were shot during a protest in Louisville.

READ MORE: Trump calls George Floyd protesters ‘thugs,’ threatens to send military

The demonstrators, the majority of which have been peaceful, have been met with tear gas and the threat of arrests from police and the National Guard, who were deployed in Minneapolis by the Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday.

CNN reporter Omar Jimenez was one of the people arrested in the aftermath of the protest Friday morning. The journalist, who is Black and Latino, was taken into custody live on air for reasons the police refused to specify at the time. He was released a few hours later.

George Floyd (Credit: Floyd family)

The death of Floyd has sparked outrage since a video of the incident was released on Monday. In the video, which was filmed by a bystander, Floyd can be seen handcuffed and pinned to ground with Officer Derek Chauvin‘s knee on his neck. He moans and cries for help, saying he can’t breathe, before he appears motionless.

Floyd, who was arrested after being accused of forgery, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Officer Chauvin and three other officers involved in the arrest were fired on Tuesday, according to Minneapolis police.

Taylor, a Black woman, was killed when plainclothes officers forced their way inside her home to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation and shot her at least eight times. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was arrested at the scene for returning fire and charged with attempted murder.

READ MORE: George Floyd and officer Derek Chauvin worked together at nightclub in 2019

The charges against Walker were dropped on May 22, with prosecutors citing the need for more evidence. A 911 call that Walker made at the time of the shooting was released on Friday.

“I don’t know what is happening,” Walker said. “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”

The FBI has opened an investigation into both Floyd and Taylor’s killings.