He made the comments at a virtual town hall from his home in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.
“I’m urging every mayor in this country to review your use-of-force policies with members of your community and to commit to reforms,” Obama said. “Let’s go ahead and implement those. We need those in positions of power to say this is a priority.”
The former US leader suggested that chokeholds should be outlawed and other officers should get involved when a colleague is treating a suspect roughly.
“The last few months, the kinds of epic changes and events in our country are as profound as anything I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Obama said. “To those families who’ve been directed impacted, please know that ... we grieve with you, and ... we’re committed to the fight of creating a more just nation.”
Floyd died last week after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
“What has happened over the last several weeks is that the challenges and structural problems here in the U.S. have been thrown into high relief,” Obama said. “The outcomes ... are the result of a long history of slavery, Jim Crow and redlining and institutional racism that too often have been the plague, the original sin of our society. In some ways, as tragic as these past few weeks have been ... they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of this ... an opportunity to work together to tackle them and take them on and change America and make it live to its highest ideals.”