Obama Condemns George Floyd Riots: ‘Let’s Not Excuse Violence’

Former President Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, September 7, 2018. (File photo: John Gress/Reuters)

Former president Barack Obama decried the looting and burning of American cities in response to the death of George Floyd, saying it was “compounding the destruction” of inner-city communities and “detracting from the larger cause.”

Obama pointed to a viral video of an elderly black Minneapolis resident brought to tears by the situation after rioters and looters wrecked her neighborhood. The woman, weeping in an interview, said the destruction happened “for no reason” and that “it’s not going to bring George back.”


Writing on Medium, Obama sympathized with the sentiments, saying the rioting was destroying “neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment” and pointing to civic engagement as the way forward.

“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,” he argued.

The former president concluded by stating that “justifiable anger” must be channeled into “peaceful, sustained, and effective action.”

“If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals,” Obama said.

Obama’s response comes after several days of nationwide protests turned into violence across the country. On Sunday George Floyd’s brother Terrence urged those involved to “channel your anger elsewhere.”

“Don’t tear up your town. All of this is not necessary because if his own family and blood is not doing it, then why are you?” Floyd told ABC News. “If his own family and blood is trying to deal with it and be positive about it and go another route to seek justice, then why are you out here tearing up your community? Because when you’re finished and turn around and then you want to go buy something, you done tore it up. So now you messed up your own living arrangements. So just relax. Justice will be served.”

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