Who are the 5 living presidents

Police violence protests in the United States : All ex-US presidents still alive speak up

After the death of the African American George Floyd and the ongoing protests, the four surviving former US presidents condemned systematic racism in the United States.

Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama made statements criticizing the persistent inequality and discrimination against blacks in the United States. All of them also resonated - more or less directly - with criticism of President Donald Trump.

Ex-President Carter said on Wednesday (local time) that more must be done to counter systematic racism in the United States. "We need a government that is as good as its people, and we are better than that," wrote the Democrat.

It is time to stand up against discrimination in the police and judiciary as well as persistent “immoral” economic inequality, he said.

George W. Bush had previously stated Tuesday that it was a "shocking failure" that many African Americans were still exposed to harassment and threats in their home country.

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“How do we end systematic racism in our society?” He asked. Blacks experienced repeated violations of their rights "without an urgent and adequate response from America's institutions."

Ex-President Clinton had already stated on Saturday that Floyd's death was "the latest in a long line of tragedies and injustices and a painful reminder that the color of a person still determines how they are treated in almost every situation in America".

Obama calls protests signs of hope

Barack Obama sees the peaceful protests as an opportunity to make progress in the fight against “institutionalized racism” in the USA.

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It is impressive and a sign of hope that people of all walks of life and skin colors are participating in the protests across the country, Obama said. The latest events are an “incredible opportunity” because many people are becoming aware of existing disadvantages for the first time.

Although there have been isolated riots, a majority of Americans continue to consider the protests to be justified "because of the injustices they have seen," said Obama on Wednesday evening (local time) in a video link of his foundation.

In the past, blacks and other minorities in particular took part in such protests. “It's different now. You look at these protests and there is a much more representative cross section of America demonstrating peacefully, ”said Obama.

"That didn't exist in the 1960s ... there is a change of mindset, a stronger realization that we can do better," he added. All Americans have to rebel against racism, but above all politicians have to admit mistakes and take responsibility, demanded the so far only black president of the USA.

Ex-Defense Minister Mattis expresses direct criticism

Meanwhile, former Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed direct criticism of the incumbent president's handling of the crisis. Trump is the first president he has ever seen who is not trying to unite the country, but has been trying to divide the country for three years, Mattis wrote in the US magazine "The Atlantic".

"We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership," wrote the retired general. The events of that week would have left him “angry and horrified”.

Mattis had resigned as Secretary of Defense in early 2019 after two years because of differences of opinion with Trump, but had not publicly criticized the president since.

He now described the militarization of operations against the protests across the country after the death of the African American George Floyd in a police operation as an unnecessary mistake.

Sharp words for White House incident

"At home, we should very rarely use our military when requested by state governors," wrote Mattis. A deployment of the armed forces against civil protests threatens to provoke a conflict between the population and the military, he warned.

Mattis found particularly sharp words for the incident on Monday, when a peaceful protest in front of the White House was violently broken up on the orders of the Trump administration to allow Trump to pose for a photo in front of a nearby church.

"Bizarre photo appearance"

He described the incident as an "abuse of government power". "We must reject this and hold those officials accountable who would mock our constitution," he demanded.

He had not yet imagined that soldiers would be ordered to "violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens" in order to enable the Commander-in-Chief to make a "bizarre photo appearance," added Mattis. He also indirectly criticized Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had attended Trump's appearance. Esper had later tried to distance himself from it.

Trump calls Mattis self-promoter

Trump responded to Mattis' criticism via Twitter and accused him of dominating the field of self-expression. He did not appreciate his manager and was glad that he was "gone," wrote Trump.

For days the president has been campaigning for the military to be deployed to stop riots on the sidelines of the protests. On Trump's orders, soldiers and federal forces have been relocated to the capital, Washington. On Tuesday, the former chief of staff, Mike Mullen, was horrified and sharply criticized Trump's government for it. (dpa, Tsp)

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