‘Let’s get to work’: Obama pens letter on how to achieve ‘real change’ amid George Floyd protests

Former President Barack Obama published an essay in which he reflected on his thoughts and hopes for “real change” amid the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police.

Titled “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change,” the June 1 post on Medium from Obama focused on how to translate the anger and frustration felt during this moment into good.

“First, 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 his letter. “The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.”

Obama would describe later in the essay how the “small minority” of individuals who have turned toward violence in the protests are “compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause.”

“If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So 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.”

Obama would go on to note that while it is important to have leaders at the national level who understand the “corrosive role that racism” plays in our society, but that the “elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”

The former president closed his essay by noting the role that both protest and politics play in bringing about real change, saying, “the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away.”

The essay has received more than 40,000 claps on Medium, with commenters praising the former commander-in-chief for his thoughts.

“President Barack Obama’s calm voice of reason has been missed and is very appreciated at this time of crisis,” wrote one commenter.

“I appreciate these actionable insights. Thanks for this, Mr. President,” wrote another.