US Obama steps out as nation confronts confluence of crises
Obama: Racism must never be "normal" in the USA
© RHONA WISE After the death of 46-year-old African American George Floyd due to the brutal behavior of white police officers, former US President Barack Obama has now spoken out. Racism should never be "normal" in the US, he said. Former US President Barack Obama was shocked at the death of African American George Floyd by the brutal crackdown on white officers. Racism should never be "normal" in the US, Obama said on Friday. "This shouldn't be 'normal' in America in 2020.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Barack Obama is taking on an increasingly public role as the nation confronts a confluence of historic crises that has exposed deep racial and socioeconomic inequalities in America and reshaped the November election.
In doing so, Obama is signaling a willingness to sharply critique his successor, President Donald Trump, and fill what many Democrats see as a national leadership void. On Wednesday, he’ll hold a virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the death ofin Minneapolis.
In Days of Discord, President Trump Fans the Flames
WASHINGTON — With a nation on edge, ravaged by disease, hammered by economic collapse, divided over lockdowns and even face masks and now convulsed once again by race, President Trump’s first instinct has been to look for someone to fight. Over the last week, America reeled from 100,000 pandemic deaths, 40 million people out of work and cities in flames over a brutal police killing of a subdued black man. But Mr. Trump was on the attack against China, the World Health Organization, Big Tech, former President Barack Obama, a cable television host and the mayor of a riot-torn city.
Aides said Obama will call for turning the protests over Floyd’s death into policy change and will urge specific reforms to ensure safer policing and increased trust between communities and law enforcement.
“We’re in a political season, but our country is also at an inflection point,” said Valerie Jarrett, a longtime friend and adviser to Obama. “President Obama is not going to shy away from that dialogue simply because he’s not in office anymore.”
Obama was already beginning to emerge from political hibernation to endorse Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential bid when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the U.S., killing more than 100,000 people, and the economy began to crater. The crises scrambled the Biden campaign’s plans for how to begin deploying Obama as their chief surrogate ahead of the November election, but also gave the former president a clear opening to start publicly arguing what he has signaled to friends and associates privately for the past three years: that he does not believe Trump is up for the job.
Biden Slowly Emerges From Seclusion, Hoping to Meet the Moment
Under normal circumstances, Joseph R. Biden Jr. might have delivered a speech on race in America on Sunday, covered by a press corps following him around the country. He might have visited Minneapolis or another city torn by violence. He might have summoned reporters to the front of his plane to critique President Trump’s leadership of a nation in crisis. © Erin Schaff/The New York Times Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Memorial Day after laying a wreath at a veterans’ memorial in Delaware. But at a moment that is emerging as a critical test for both Mr. Biden and Mr.
Addressing graduates of historically black colleges and universities last month, Obama said the pandemic had “fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing.” And in a nationally televised broadcast celebrating graduating high school seniors, Obama said many “so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs,” do only what’s convenient and feels good.
Floyd’s death, however, has drawn a more visceral and personal reaction from the nation’s first black president. Floyd, a black man, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
In a lengthy written statement last week, Obama said that while he understood that millions of Americans were eager to “just get back to normal” when the pandemic abates, it shouldn’t be forgotten that normal life for people of color in the U.S. involves being treated differently on account of their race.
On Trump's watch, all crises 'should never have happened'
Analysis: The president has a distancing refrain for crises that occur during his presidency, whether it's George Floyd's death or the coronavirus or rising international tensions.Whether it's the death of George Floyd and the ensuing unrest, the growing body count of the coronavirus, or international emergencies ranging from Venezuela to North Korea, Trump has settled on a tactic: Declare that the event "should never have happened," and find some culprit who failed to prevent it.
“This shouldn’t be 'normal' in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal,’" Obama wrote.
Tensions across the country have escalated further in the days since the former president’s statement. His town hall on Wednesday will mark his first in-person comments since law enforcement officersfrom a park outside the White House so Trump could walk across for a photo opportunity at a nearby church.
Trump has cheered harsh crackdowns on the protests, some of which have turned violent, and threatened to deploy active-duty military to the states if local officials could not get the demonstrations under control. He appeared to be backing down from that position this week, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that he
Obama grappled with police brutality against minorities as president, including in Ferguson, Missouri, where clashes broke out after the death of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old. After Brown’s death, Obama’s Justice Department moved to enact broad policing reforms, though most were halted under the Trump administration.
Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, called this week for restoring some of the previous administration’s actions in the wake of Floyd’s death and the killing of other black Americans. Biden also called for Congress to take immediate steps, including outlawing chokeholds.
As George Floyd protests heat up coronavirus crisis, 4 in Atlanta speak up and lead .
With reckless Donald Trump and no national leadership, listen to Rep. John Lewis, rapper Killer Mike and Atlanta mayor and police chief: Our viewEach disaster disproportionately harms people of color. Each feeds off the other. The pandemic spawned the economic free fall, and mass protests over the death of George Floyd a week ago in Minneapolis are likely to accelerate the pandemic.