Former President Barack Obama spoke at a virtual town hall earlier today (June 3) about the tragic death of George Floyd, the protests that are taking place in cities across the country and the eruption of police violence. And if you couldn't watch live, a replay of the event is on demand right now.
The event, titled "Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence," began streaming at 5 p.m. Eastern at Obama.org. It's the latest in the town hall series hosted by My Brother's Keeper Alliance, a program established by the Obama Foundation.
The former president made some opening remarks and then participated in a panel along with former Attorney General Eric Holder, Minneapolis City Council member Phillips Cunningham and other leaders and activists. The conversation focused on how to reform law enforcement agencies and improve trust between police and the communities they are supposed to protect.
On Monday, Obama addressed Floyd's death and the resulting protests in a Medium post. He wrote that the protests "represent a genuine and legitimate frustration" and could be "a real turning point" in police and criminal justice reform. He also urged readers to vote. "We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform," he said.
Obama concluded, "If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation's long journey to live up to our highest ideals."
The former president has generally refrained from making speeches during President Donald Trump's tenure in the White House. But he has publicly criticized the current president recently — in April, when he endorsed his former vice president, Joe Biden, for president, and a few weeks ago when he headlined two national virtual commencement ceremonies.
On Tuesday, Biden made his first formal speech since the coronavirus pandemic halted his campaign in mid-March. He blasted Trump's response to the protests, noting the tear-gassing of protesters outside the White House so that the president could have a photo-op in front of a church. Biden called for unity and promised "leadership that can recognize pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for a long time."