An elected official, who is responsible for ensuring the Democratic Party passes legislation in the House, seemingly shunned military protocol by honoring a dead suspect who did not serve the country.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presented a relative of George Floyd with a ceremonial burial flag even though the deceased Minnesotan had never served in the U.S. armed forces.

Floyd died in police custody after local police allegedly handcuffed and kneed Floyd’s throat before he became unresponsive on May 25. This quickly led to extreme, “anarchist” protests spreading across the nation.

Philonise Floyd received the honor during a media photo opportunity held after he delivered his recollection of events, leading up to his brother’s death, to House Judiciary Democrats.

“Philonise Floyd’s heart-wrenching testimony to House Judiciary Democrats left its mark on us all,” Pelosi said on Twitter. “May this flag, which flew over the Capitol on the day of his brother’s murder, serve as a symbol of our shared commitment to securing justice for George and all victims of police violence.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website describes the burial flag as an adornment to honor the memory of a veteran’s military service to the nation.

The flag is usually draped over the casket or urn, containing the remains of the deceased person, before being folded into a triangle shape and handed to the closest living relative at a special ceremony.

“Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service,” the website said. “When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of Veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.”

Eligible recipients may include veterans who served during wartime, after January 1955, or in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. They may have died on active duty, been discharged or released during peace time before June 1950, or been formerly a member of the Selected Reserves.

Several social media users took the opportunity to express concern about Pelosi using the tragedy for her own political advantage at the upcoming general election, on Nov. 3.

“He was a criminal,” Bridget Martin said on Twitter.

“He was a felon, plain and simple, not a hero,” DS said on Twitter. “Horrible what happened to him but let us face reality.”

“Stop making a hero out of him,” Casper324 said on Twitter. “He should not have died but he is not a hero. A hero is the people who died protecting their property or family.”

Another user suggested the House speaker should focus more on her own health and wellbeing.

“When did an alcoholic become our national spokesperson?” Timothy Lee Gravatt said on Twitter. “Sober up Pelosi.”

Join our program