Barack Obama said Tuesday that a Minneapolis jury had done the “right thing” in convicting former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of a Black man ― but the former president stressed that the nation “cannot rest” in its quest for “true justice” for Black Americans.
“True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day,” Obama said in a statement. “It requires us to recognize that millions of our friends, family, and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last.”
Chauvin, a white man, was convicted Tuesday of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in the death of George Floyd during an arrest.
Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin and two other officers pinned him to the pavement. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost 10 minutes, even after Floyd repeatedly cried out that he couldn’t breathe.
In his statement, Obama reflected on the effect that Floyd’s death has had on not just Americans but people across the globe — “inspiring murals and marches, sparking conversations in living rooms and new legislation.”
These conversations and efforts to end racism must continue, Obama said, noting that although the verdict in Chauvin’s trial may mark a “necessary step on the road to progress,” it is “far from a sufficient one.”
“We cannot rest,” Obama wrote. “We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system. We will need to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity for those communities that have been too long marginalized.”
He went on to acknowledge the “millions of people — especially young people — who have marched and protested and spoken up over the last year, shining a light on inequity and calling for change.”
“Justice is closer today not simply because of this verdict, but because of their work,” Obama said.
In the aftermath of Floyd’s death last year, the former president decried the plague of systemic racism in the U.S.
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” he said at the time. “It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.