Image via Shutterstock Barack Obama
Image via Shutterstock

The Wednesday address will be a part of the former president’s “My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Town Hall” series.

Former President Barack Obama will address the nation Wednesday about George Floyd’s death and the nationwide protests that have sparked civil unrest.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died Memorial Day after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck and pinned him to the ground. Floyd begged for mercy, repeatedly uttering “I can’t breathe.”

The incident was filmed and quickly went viral. 

Chauvin was taken into custody on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The Star-Tribune reported Wednesday that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison plans to elevate those charges to second degree murder, and file charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder for the other three officers involved in Floyd’s death.

Obama’s address will take place on Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST, live on his website. It will be part of the former president’s “My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Town Hall” series, and will feature former Attorney General Eric Holder along with other activists. 

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Obama has previously addressed Floyd’s death, and the protests, but this will be his first on-camera remarks. 

In an essay, Obama said, “It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. 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 health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”

Floyd’s death reminded many people of Eric Garner, another unarmed Black man killed by police. His dying words “I can’t breathe” became a resounding chant for protesters.

After a grand jury declined to bring charges against the officer who choked Garner in 2014, President Obama delivered a statement, in which he said, in part: “Right now, unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. … This is an American problem. When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem.”