Former President George W. Bush has voiced “anguish” at the “brutal” treatment of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last week that caused his death and led to waves of national unrest.

In a five-paragraph message Tuesday, the 43rd U.S. president said he and former first lady Laura Bush decided to speak out.

“Laura and I are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country,” Bush wrote. “Yet we have resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen.

“It is time for America to examine our tragic failures — and as we do, we will also see some of our redeeming strengths.”

Bush called protesting against injustice “a strength” and noted Floyd’s death is part of a “long series of similar tragedies.” He declared that the “doctrine and habits of racial superiority, which once nearly split our country, still threaten our Union.”

Bush also condemned the violent reactions that have occurred in nearly every major U.S. city over the past week.

“Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress.

“But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.”

In closing, Bush called for “empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice. I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.”

Former President Barack Obama addressed the unrest in a lengthy message Monday, which encouraged activists to demonstrate peacefully and make changes politically.

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