George Floyd Protesters Have Plenty of Public Presidential Support, Just Not From Trump

All four living former U.S. presidents have now expressed public support for the protests calling for justice that have erupted across America in the wake of George Floyd's death.

However, Donald Trump, the current president, has not publicly praised the protests, but rather criticized local and state leaders and discussed mobilizing police forces on George Floyd protesters.

Although he has referred to himself as "an ally of all peaceful protesters," Trump said in a statement made Monday that the country "has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others," in reference to the looting that has also emerged.

"These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror," Trump said. He has also urged governors and mayors of cities where violent protests have occurred to utilize local law enforcement and the National Guard to contain them. At the same press conference, Trump announced he was weighing invoking the Insurrection Act, in which the president can deploy U.S. military to restore order, if local and state officials did not get a handle on the situation.

Jimmy Carter is the latest former U.S. president to speak out in support of the protests, joining his counterparts Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

"People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say 'no more' to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations," Carter said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Democrat reflected on his political career and efforts to combat discrimination. "In my 1971 inaugural address as Georgia's governor, I said: 'The time for racial discrimination is over.' With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later," Carter said. "We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this."

He said since leaving the White House, he and former first lady Rosalynn Carter "have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence."

jimmy carter
Former president Jimmy Carter in Atlanta, Georgia on September 30, 2018. Carter is the latest to join Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama in support of the protests that have erupted across the nation Scott Cunningham/Stringer

Carter's message echoed former Republican President George W. Bush, who praised the protests on Tuesday.

"It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African-American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future," Bush said in a statement. "The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all."

Bush said that he and former first lady Laura Bush have resisted to speak out "because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen."

Former President Barack Obama also responded publicly to Floyd's death and the subsequent protests.

In his latest address about the situation during a virtual town hall on Wednesday, he said, "Part of what's made me so hopeful is the fact that so many young people have galvanized and activated and motivated and mobilized because historically, so much of the progress that we've made in our society has been because of young people."

"There is a change in mindset that's taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better and that is not as a consequence of speeches by politicians, that's not the result of spotlights in news articles, that's a direct result of the activities and organizing and mobilization and engagement of so many young people across the country, who put themselves out on the line to make a difference," he said.

Obama has previously supported the protests in an essay published Monday on Medium where he said the demonstrations "deserve our respect and support, not condemnation." He encouraged that "real change" comes from both protest and politics.

"We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform," he wrote.

Former President Bill Clinton said on Monday: "No one deserves to die the way George Floyd did. And the truth is, if you're white in America, the chances are you won't."

"Fifty-seven years ago, Dr. King dreamed of a day when his 'four little children would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.' Today, that dream seems even more out of reach, and we'll never reach it if we keep treating people of color with the unspoken assumption that they're less human," he said in a statement.

The statements from Carter, Bush, Obama and Clinton means all former living presidents have spoken out in support of the protests that have sparked across the nation calling for justice.

Newsweek reached out to the White House comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

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