Former U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned violence in the ongoing protests across the country, saying such actions “are putting innocent people at risk.”
Obama made the remarks in a publication on Monday themed: “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change.”
“The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation,” said Obama.
“On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause.”
The U.S. protests were sparked by the death of an unarmed black man last week as he was arrested by police in Minneapolis.
George Floyd died on Monday last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes as he and his colleagues arrested him.
An onlooker's cell phone recorded the incident showing the 46-year-old black man moaning, "Please, I can't breathe" and "Don't kill me" as the police officer pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck. However, the video didn't show how the confrontation started.
After several minutes of the police office pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck, the victim went silent and was later pronounced dead.
The video quickly went viral on social media, sparking widespread protest from Tuesday afternoon, some of which have deteriorated into chaos.
In his publication on Monday, Obama also called out people who routed solely for protests as a means of bringing social change, without taking part in the political system.
“I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands,” he said.
The U.S. protests have fast spread across the country, prompting some states to take measures to safeguard property.