Live: Obama hosts 'reimagining policing' town hall in wake of George Floyd's death

Dylan Stableford
Senior Writer

Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday will host a virtual town hall to address the recent killings of unarmed black Americans, including George Floyd, and the days of protests that have followed.

The event, titled "Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence," will be live-streamed here beginning at 5 p.m. ET. Former Attorney General Eric Holder is among the guest panelists expected to appear.

“The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the loss of far too many Black lives to list, have left our nation anguished and outraged,” reads a message about the town hall on the Obama Foundation's website. “While now is a time for grief and anger, it is also a time for resolve. ... We can take steps and make reforms to combat police violence and systemic racism within law enforcement.”

Obama, the country's first black president, has released two statements since the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.

On Monday, he addressed the nationwide protests, praising the “overwhelming majority” of peaceful demonstrators, condemning the violence brought on by a “small minority” and calling on a “new generation of activists” to “bring about real change.”

“The waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States,” Obama wrote in an essay published on Medium.com. “The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation.”

“On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, 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,” he continued. “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.”

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