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Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images for EIF & XQ

Former President Obama championed the "heightened activism of young people" and the spirit of the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd and other instances of police brutality while calling for an end to the violence that has erupted in parts of the country in a Medium post published Monday.

The big picture: The former president urged citizens to vote in concert with protesting, arguing that "if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both."

What he's saying: Obama acknowledged that the "overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring," adding that they deserve "our respect and support, not condemnation."

  • "On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause."
  • "So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves."
  • "The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s only in response to protest that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities."

The bottom line: "If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals."

Go deeper

Aug 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump and Biden ready to refight 1968

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Win McNamee/Getty Images and Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump and Joe Biden are waging 2020 like it’s 1968, but they come at it with radically different views about this country's evolution over the past half century.

Driving the news: Jacob Blake's shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has become the latest flashpoint on race, policing and violence. A string of incidents have spurred street demonstrations from DC to Portland and framed an election-year debate about racial justice versus law and order.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.