George W Bush says those who try to silence protesters 'do not understand the meaning of America'

'Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress'

Justin Vallejo
New York
Wednesday 03 June 2020 00:08 BST
George Floyd protesters met with violence from police across US

Former President George W Bush said he was anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd, but that justice, liberation and progress do not come by looting and destruction.

In his first statement on the death of Mr Floyd while in police custody more than a week ago, Mr Bush and former first lady Laura Bush said they resisted the urge to speak out as it was not the time to lecture, but to listen.

"It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future," Mr and Mrs Bush said in a joint statement.

"The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place."

The comments come after a week of protests, looting and riots across the country as demonstrators and police clashed in the wake of Mr Floyd's death.

It has led to curfews being placed on major cities and more than 20 states calling in the national guard, while Donald Trump invoked the 1807 Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty military to the streets of Washington DC.

While Mr Bush praised protesters speaking out against the repeated violation of the rights of black people, he said this would only come when Americans choose the better way of empathy and peace rooted in justice.

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

"But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. 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."

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