After six nights of fiery, violent clashes between police and people protesting the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, former US President Barack Obama decided to weigh in.
Mr Obama authored a post on the self-publishing platform Medium in which he called for a cessation of violence at the George Floyd protests and for the American public to have faith that electoral politics can produce positive change in the country.
Regarding the protests, Mr Obama praised the peaceful protesters, saying the "overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation - something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood."
He then goes on to condemn the "small minority" of protesters who have caused property damage or responded with aggression towards police at the protests.
Mr Obama claims they are "putting innocent people at risk" and destroying neighbourhoods that, in many instances, were already struggling.
"So let's not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it," he wrote.
The former president then goes on to argue that "racial bias" can be defeated by electoral politics, and decries those who believe that "only protests and direct action can bring about change."
"But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices - and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands," he wrote.
He argued that local officials - mayors, county executives, district attorneys - are the ones most directly responsible for appointing police chiefs and negotiating police union contracts, and are therefore instrumental in the fight to reform police departments. Mr Obama suggested that Americans should focus on winning those smaller, local elections as well as focusing on the major state and federal elections that tend to draw more attention.
"Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people - which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes," Mr Obama said.
The former president concludes by saying that protesting and participating in local electoral politics are both necessary for meaningful reform. He then argues that making specific demands for reform is necessary to hold officials accountable.
"A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another. Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct," Mr Obama said.
At the end of his post, Mr Obama provides links to resources for those interested in promoting police reform, and expressed his optimism that the current protests could be a turning point for the historical fight against police brutality and racism.
"But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful," Mr Obama said. "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."