Former President Barack Obama will headline a new town hall to speak about his ideas for nationwide police reform on Wednesday, alongside other local and national leaders involved in the effort. The event, which will stream live at 5/4c on YouTube (embedded above), is part of the MBK Alliance Town Hall Series and is titled "Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence."
Obama will join former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, Color of Change President Rashad Robinson, Minneapolis City Council Representative Phillipe Cunningham, and MBK Columbus youth leader Playon Patrick. The conversation will be moderated by Campaign Zero co-founder Brittany Packnett Cunningham. The group is expected to discuss the recent events that prompted Black Lives Matter protests across the globe, including the police killing of George Floyd, as well as the history of police violence in America and what steps of action can be taken going forward.
Obama previously addressed Floyd's death in a statement, saying, "It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd's death are 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."
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I want to share parts of the conversations I’ve had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota. The first is an email from a middle-aged African American businessman. “Dude I gotta tell you the George Floyd incident in Minnesota hurt. I cried when I saw that video. It broke me down. The ‘knee on the neck’ is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help. People don’t care. Truly tragic.” Another friend of mine used the powerful song that went viral from 12-year-old Keedron Bryant to describe the frustrations he was feeling. The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same. It’s shared by me and millions of others. It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal” – whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park. 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 up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better. It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are 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.
"Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence" will stream live on Wednesday, June 3 at 5/4c.