George Floyd death: Emotional Michelle Obama says she is exhausted by 'a heartbreak that never seems to stop'
'Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on'
Former First Lady Michelle Obama has spoken out about George Floyd, the 46-year-old who was killed while being taken into custody by police officers in Minneapolis on Memorial Day and said it "pained" her to read about the repeated instances of brutality against African-Americans and people of color.
"Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies," she wrote on Twitter alongside an artwork depicting Floyd. "And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on."
"Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with," she continued. "But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own."
"It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us."
Floyd was confronted by four Minneapolis police officers for using a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase cigarettes, with a now-viral video shot by Darnella Frazier showing Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for several minutes even as the 46-year-old pleaded he could not breathe.
After an excruciating eight minutes and 46 seconds, by which point he had already lost consciousness and become unresponsive, he was given aid for "medical distress." It proved too little, too late. He was declared dead the same day.
His death sparked violent riots in Minneapolis, where a mob burned down a police precinct located close to the scene of the incident, as well as protests across several major cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago and New York City.
Several celebrities have weighed in on the situation, with Michelle's husband, former President Barack Obama, also releasing a lengthy statement where he said he was suffering the same "anguish" that many Americans have felt this week.
"It’s natural to wish for life 'to just get back to normal' as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us," he wrote. "But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly 'normal' — whether it's while dealing with the healthcare system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park."
"This shouldn’t be 'normal' in 2020 America. It can’t be 'normal,'" he continued. "If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better."
All four police officers involved in Floyd's death have been fired while Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday, May 29.