Barack Obama commended peaceful protests against police brutality that have swept the country after the death of George Floyd at an online town hall on Wednesday and urged US mayors to take action at the local level to heal relations between police departments and black communities.

The former president did not mention Donald Trump's militant response to the protests that have been marked at times by riotous pockets of looting, vandalism, and violence.

"Most of the reforms that are needed to prevent the type of violence and injustices that we've seen take place at the local level," Mr Obama said in remarks streamed on YouTube that lasted roughly 15 minutes and drew an online viewership of roughly half a million people.

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"The reform has to take place in more than 19,000 American municipalities, more than 18,000 local enforcement jurisdictions. And so as activists and everyday citizens raise their voices, we need to be clear about where change is gonna happen and how we can bring about that change," Mr Obama said.

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