Former US President George W Bush on Tuesday called upon Americans to examine the nation’s “tragic failures” and collectively push for equal justice, amid violent protests across the country over the custodial killing of an African-American man.

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American, was handcuffed and pinned to the ground in Minneapolis on May 25 by a white police officer who kneeled on his neck as he gasped for breath.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets from Seattle to New York, demanding tougher murder charges and more arrests over the death of Floyd.

The protests turned violent across the US that left at least five people dead and over 4,000 people arrested.

George Bush said that he and his wife, Laura, were “disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country”.

On Tuesday, the Bushes said in a statement that they did not feel like it was their time to speak out, but rather it was time for them to listen.

George Bush and Laura Bush also said that they believe peaceful marches are good for the country.

“It remains a shocking failure that many African-Americans, especially young African-American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country,” the statement read.

“Laura and I are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country. Yet we have resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen,” George Bush said.

“The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place,” he further added to his statement.

America’s on is not progress,” he said .

Last Friday, Barack Obama had expressed the “anguish” of millions of Americans over the death of a black man and said racism cannot be “normal” in the United States.

Police and protesters clashed in numerous cities including Chicago and New York, with officers responding to projectiles with pepper spray while shop windows were smashed in Philadelphia.

Most of the shops in downtown Manhattan have had plywood installed over their windows and entrances, and workers were boarding up more shops on Tuesday afternoon, bracing for another potentially violent night.

Earlier, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden condemned the incident and said, “We have to ensure that the Floyd family receive the justice they are entitled to”.

The case was seen as the latest example of police brutality against African Americans, which gave rise six years ago to the Black Lives Matter movement.