Washington — Former President Barack Obama is participating in a virtual town hall Wednesday focused on the death of George Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis last week and how to best address racial bias in the criminal justice system.
The event, hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance, will also feature former Attorney General Eric Holder and other political and community leaders.
Floyd's death and those of other unarmed African-Americans have led to an eruption of nationwide protests against police brutality and have prompted heightened calls for police reforms.
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On Monday, Mr. Obama wrote in a post on Medium that the ongoing demonstrations "represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system" in the U.S. But the former president said the protests could "be a real turning point" for those efforts.
"When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it," Mr. Obama said. "But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels."
While many of the protests have been peaceful, Mr. Obama condemned the violence and vandalism perpetrated by some demonstrators, writing that their actions "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."