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Barack Obama: 'As tragic as these few weeks have been, it's an incredible opportunity to awaken'

Obama has urged every US mayor to review its use of police force and commit to reforms.

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FORMER US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has reacted to the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed while being arrested by US police.

To young men and women of colour, he said: “You have the power to make things better… You’ve communicated a sense of urgency that is as powerful and as transformative as anything that I’ve seen in recent years.”

“There is a change in mindset that’s taking place, a greater recognition, that we can do better,” he said. “I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter.”

“You should be able to learn, and make mistakes, and live a life of joy, without having to worry about what’s going to happen when you walk to the store, or go for a jog, or are driving down the street, or looking at some birds in a park.

Speaking as part of a virtual town hall discussion over Zoom, Obama urged mayors to review their use of police force policies with members of their communities, and to commit to planned reforms.

He also called on every city to sign up to the My Brother’s Keeper community initiative, which aims “to reduce barriers and expand opportunity for boys and young men of colour” through programmes and policy reforms. 

 In some ways, as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened. 

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Obama also thanked police officers who support and “share the goals of” the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I hope that you can feel hopeful, even as you may feel angry – because you have the power to make things better.”

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