The former president expressed compassion for protesters around the country.
“The waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration,” he wrote, “over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States.”
Obama urged readers to not lose faith in electoral politics. Meanwhile, Donald Trump urged state governors to enforce arrests and give protesters jail sentences of “long periods of time.”
“Eventually,” Obama wrote, “aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices. In a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.”
President Trump, on the other hand, offered a more brutal solution to the unrest.
“You have to dominate,” he told state officials. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time–you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to arrest people, and you have to try people, and they have to go to jail for long periods of time.”
Multiple states set up curfews over the weekend to curb the protests.In Philadelphia, officers blocked an entrance ramp to a major interstate to limit protest traffic. Additionally, the city suspended public transit starting at 6 p.m.
“If,” Obama concluded, “we can channel our justifiable anger into sustained and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.”