Barack Obama says George Floyd's death 'cannot be normal' and asks for justice


Former US president Barack Obama has spoken out against the death of George Floyd saying it "cannot be normal" in 2020 and is asking for "justice".

The 58-year-old released a statement on Twitter in response to the death of Mr Floyd who died on Monday after a police officer was filmed pushing his knee down on his neck.

Harrowing video footage shows the 46-year-old repeatedly saying he could not breathe as he was being held by Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.

His death has sparked huge anger, with widespread protests and calls for Chauvin and his colleagues Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng, who were all fired, to face murder charges.

Witnesses have disputed the Minneapolis Police Department's claims that Mr Floyd - who was unarmed - was resisting arrest.
Former US president Barack Obama (Image: Getty Images)

Mr Obama, the nation's first black president, said: "This shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America. It can't be normal. If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives to its highest ideals, we can and must do better.

"It was fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd's death is investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done.

"But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station - including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day - to work together to create a "new normal" in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts."

The dad-of-two also included comments about the death from friends he has spoken to about Mr Floyd before making a reference to the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery who was shot dead while jogging unarmed in Georgia in February and Amy Cooper, a white woman who called the police after black birdwatcher Christian Cooper asked her to put her dog on a lead in Central Park in New York this week.
George Floyd died after being restrained by police
Mr Obama released a statement on Twitter (Image: barackobama/Twitter)

"It's natural to wish for life "to just get back to normal" as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us," he said.

"But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully and maddeningly "normal" - whether it's while dealing with the healthcare system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park."

Mr Obama's statement was released shortly before it was announced that Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

Today Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said Chavin and Mr Floyd knew each other because they had both worked as bouncers at the same nightclub.
Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder
A new video appears to "show multiple cops pinning George Floyd down" (Image: MSNBC)

It is not yet clear what, if any, action will be taken against the three other officers.

New footage which emerged today appears to show three officers kneeling on Mr Floyd's neck.

US telly powerhouse Oprah Winfrey tweeted an illustration of Mr Floyd with a tribute saying he "won't be just a hashtag".

She wrote: "I haven't been able to get the image of the knee on his neck out of my head.
Oprah Winfrey has also paid tribute to Mr Floyd

"It's there with me every morning when I rise and when I go through the ordinary duties of the day. While pouring my coffee, lacing my shoes and taking a breath, I think: He doesn't get to do this."

"And now the video from the other angle showing the two other police officers pinning him down. My heart sinks even deeper.

"His family and friends say he was a gentle giant. His death has now shown us he has a giant soul."

She ended her message, saying: "#GeorgeFloyd, we speak your name. But this time, we will not let your name be just a hashtag. Your spirit is lifted by the cries of all of us who call for justice in your name."

Earlier today Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called for an end to the violent protests and said he expected "swift" justice for the officers involved.

He said he understood what was driving the protests saying he believed the community had "lost faith" in the police force and "felt they were part of the problem."

Earlier today US President Donald Trump took to Twitter and branded rioters "thugs", and threatened "when the looting starts, the shooting starts".

The tweet violated rules against "glorifying violence" and Twitter hid the message behind a disclaimer and banned likes based on fears the president's threat could inspire further acts of violence.