Michelle Obama said she was “devastated” by the shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week and is “exhausted and frustrated” at the trauma of Black and brown people in the US.
In a lengthy statement released on Friday, the former first lady condemned the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Wisconsin man shot seven times in the back by police in front of his children, as well as the shooting of three protesters by an alleged 17-year-old rightwing militant in the protests that followed.
“I’m just devastated by the shootings in Kenosha,” she wrote. “Like so many of you, I’m exhausted and frustrated right now. It’s a weight that I know Black and Brown people all across the country are shouldering once again. And we’re so often left wondering how things will get better.”
Obama had some pointed words for the Trump administration as well, condemning the “lack of empathy, division stoked in times of crisis and age-old and systemic racism” that is seen across the country, on the news, and “from the White House Rose Garden”.
She heralded the protests against police violence and racial inequality that have taken place across the United States in recent months, and encouraged Americans to vote to propel reform.
“These protests and actions will not make Jacob Blake walk again. They will not erase the trauma from those children. And they will not bring back anyone who’s been taken from us. But they will do something. They already are – opening eyes, rattling consciences and reminding people of all backgrounds that this problem wasn’t solved earlier this summer and it won’t be any time soon unless we all make a change,” she said.
Obama’s statement came as tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington DC on Friday for the Get Your Knee Off Our Necks March. Gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial, demonstrators – many wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts – demanded racial equality and an end to police brutality in the US.
Friday also marks the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr gave his I Have a Dream speech urging racial equality.