After a weekend of nationwide protests over the loss of life of George Floyd by the hands of Minneapolis Police, former president Barack Obama penned a prolonged essay urging the nation to “get to work” to enact prison justice reform and deal with systemic racism.
“The waves of protests throughout the nation signify a real and bonafide frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader prison justice system in america,” Obama wrote in a publish on Medium. “The overwhelming majority of members have been peaceable, brave, accountable, and galvanizing. They deserve our respect and assist, not condemnation — one thing that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.”
Obama — who beforehand spoke out towards Floyd’s loss of life, saying treating American’s otherwise on the account of race “shouldn’t be ‘regular’ in 2020” — additionally condemned the violence that has accompanied a few of the protests.
“Let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or take part in it,” Obama wrote. “If we wish our prison justice system, and American society at massive, to function on the next moral code, then we have now to mannequin that code ourselves.”
He pointed to elections as a pressure of change, denouncing the notion that voting received’t make a distinction.
“The underside line is that this: if we need to result in actual change, then the selection isn’t between protest and politics. We now have to do each. We now have to mobilize to boost consciousness, and we have now to prepare and solid our ballots to make it possible for we elect candidates who will act on reform,” he wrote.
He additionally emphasised the significance, not simply of nationwide elections, however these on the state and native degree, the place he says reforming police departments and the prison justice system is most integral.
“It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions,” he wrote. “It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that resolve whether or not or to not examine and in the end cost these concerned in police misconduct. These are all elected positions.”
Obama pointed to low voter turnout, particularly amongst younger folks, noting they’ve energy in numbers to make a distinction on the poll field.
“The purpose of protest is to boost public consciousness, to place a highlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable,” he wrote. “The truth is, all through American historical past, it’s typically solely been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid consideration to marginalized communities.”
He continued, “However ultimately, aspirations should be translated into particular legal guidelines and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that solely occurs once we elect authorities officers who’re aware of our calls for.”
In all, Obama mentioned he stays optimistic in regards to the future, as long as we “channel our justifiable anger into peaceable, sustained, and efficient motion.”
“I acknowledge that these previous few months have been arduous and dispiriting — that the worry, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality nonetheless form a lot of American life,” he concluded. “However watching the heightened activism of younger folks in latest weeks, of each race and each station, makes me hopeful.”