12/05/2014 12:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2014

George W. Bush: It's 'Sad' Race Continues To Be So Divisive

Former President George W. Bush weighed in on the grand jury's decision not to bring charges in the death of Eric Garner in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, which will air in full on Sunday.

A grand jury in Staten Island on Wednesday decided not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner's death by chokehold. The city erupted in protests following the decision, including a "die-in" in Grand Central Station and marches and rallies throughout Manhattan and Staten Island. Police say more than 200 protesters were arrested in New York City on Thursday evening.

Crowley asked Bush for his reaction to the response throughout the city.

"I thought, how sad. The verdict was hard to understand," he said. "I haven't seen all the details. But it's sad that race continues to play such an emotional, divisive part of life."

Watch the clip above.

Bush recalled the race riots he witnessed when he was "a kid in the '70s... with cities being burned."

"I do think we've improved," the former president said.

Bush recalled a recent conversation he had with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about race relations.

"She just said you have to understand that there are a lot of black folks around that are incredibly more and more distrusting of law enforcement, which is a shame, because law enforcement's job is to protect everybody," he said.

Many conservatives have voiced outrage over Garner's death and the ensuing grand jury decision. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said Eric Garner "did not deserve what happened to him."

"And I think Officer Pantaleo and every other American police officer -- every one -- would agree with me. He didn't deserve that," O'Reilly said.

Noah Rothman of HotAir.com noted the issue transcends party lines.

"This is one of those moments where left and right could unite. Few seem comfortable with this outcome," he said on Twitter.



Eric Garner Protests