(WTVO) — Former President Barak Obama said Americans should “not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it” on Monday.
Obama published a statement on Medium this morning, addressing the wave of protests, rioting and looting that have occurred across the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last week.
“The waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States,” the former president said. “The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support.”
“On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause,” he continued.
“So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves,” Obama wrote.
He made particular emphasis on the importance of voting at the local level, saying that’s the place where street-level criminal justice and police practices are formed, saying, “the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”
“So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform,” he said.
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