George W. Bush 'anguished' by George Floyd's death

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Former President George W. Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush “are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country.”

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Bush released the statement Tuesday regarding the treatment of black Americans, calling for the U.S. “to examine our tragic failures” but also for an end to looting. His comments came as demonstrations against the treatment of African Americans by police and other institutions continued in cities across the U.S. more than a week after Floyd died with an officer, who has since been charged with murder, kneeling on his neck in an incident recorded on video by a bystander.

President George W. Bush on Jan. 15, 2009. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

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“It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country,” he said. “It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future.”

Ending systemic racism in U.S. society will require listening “to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving,” Bush said.

“We can only see the reality of America's need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised,” he said.

A person holds a sign Monday, June 1, 2020, with the names of George Floyd and others who have died during a protest against police brutality. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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The two-term president sympathized with the “repeated violation” of African Americans’ rights without a response from institutions, but he also called for demonstrators to maintain peace.

“We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means,” he said. “Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress.”

People enter at a looted Office Depot in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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Achieving equal justice will instead take “a consistent, courageous and creative effort,” Bush added.

“There is a better way – the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice,” he said. “I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.”

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