Americans must tackle racial bias and build a society that works for all, says former president

Former president Barack Obama said his and wife Michelle’s ‘hearts are heavy’ following the ‘senseless tragedy’ of Daunte Wright’s death. Getty Images/AFP

Former US president Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the country to “reimagine policing” amid protests and a trial in Minnesota over police using excessive force that led to the deaths of unarmed black men.

Mr Obama said he and his wife Michelle’s “hearts are heavy” following the “senseless tragedy” that saw Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, fatally shot by a Minneapolis officer at the weekend.

Their statement followed a second night of violent protests over the killing of Wright in Minneapolis, where former police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man.

“The fact that this could happen even as the city of Minneapolis is going through the trial of Derek Chauvin and reliving the heart-rending murder of George Floyd indicates not just how important it is to conduct a full and transparent investigation, but also just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country,” said Mr Obama.

Wright’s death ignited two consecutive nights of unrest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, with hundreds of protesters clashing with officers outside the city’s police headquarters on Monday, despite a curfew.

Our hearts are heavy over yet another shooting of a Black man, Daunte Wright, at the hands of police. It’s important to conduct a full and transparent investigation, but this is also a reminder of just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country.

Wright was shot on Sunday during a traffic stop after scuffling with an officer.

The officer mistakenly used her pistol instead of her Taser during a struggle with Wright, a local police chief said on Monday.

“Michelle and I grieve alongside the Wright family for their loss,” added Mr Obama.

“We empathise with the pain that black mothers, fathers and children are feeling after yet another senseless tragedy. And we will continue to work with all fair-minded Americans to confront historical inequities and bring about nationwide changes that are so long overdue.”

You can find resources and ways to help here Obama said.

Anguish and Action


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The site of Wright’s death is near to where Mr Chauvin’s trial is being heard.

Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday at the murder trial after 11 days of presenting evidence as well as a mountain of video footage depicting Mr Floyd’s final moments.

During the prosecution, the wrenching clips of Mr Floyd gasping for air were played for the jury along with other bystander footage and police body-camera video of the man’s slow death.

Mr Chauvin’s lawyer has argued that the white former officer did what he had been trained to do and that Floyd died because of his illegal drug use and a heart condition.

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