Former President Barack Obama threw his support behind the efforts of peaceful protesters demanding police reforms during his first on-camera remarks since a wave of protests over the killing of George Floyd convulsed the country and upended the 2020 election.
Mr. Obama, offering a strikingly more upbeat assessment of the protesters than President Trump and White House officials, said he believed only a “tiny” percentage had acted violently.
“For those who have been talking about protest, just remember that this country was founded on protest — it is called the American Revolution,” Mr. Obama said from his home in Washington. He made the comments during an online round-table event with his former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and activists from Minneapolis sponsored by My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit group Obama founded.
“Every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals have been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable,” said Mr. Obama, who adopted a conciliatory tone that contrasted sharply with Mr. Trump’s tweets and public remarks. “And we should all be thankful for folks who are willing, in a peaceful, disciplined way, to be out there making a difference.”
Obama called on every mayor in the United States to review use-of-force policies and to aggressively pursue an eight-point slate of police reforms that include mandatory de-escalation of conflicts, a ban on shooting at moving vehicles, timely reporting of violent incidents, and prohibitions on some forms of restraint used by the police.