House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments about George Floyd’s death have been deemed unusual, with critics arguing Floyd did not choose to die.
On Tuesday, April 20, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of all charges relating to the death of Floyd as he put his knee on Floyd’s shoulder blade or neck for approximately nine minutes. Charges include second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
The jury’s vote rejected the defense claim that there might have been other medical reasons why Floyd died, deliberating that Chauvin killed him by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.
The House speaker then made a statement giving tribute to the deceased victim at a press conference hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus, referring to his death as a sacrifice for racial justice.
“Thank you George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out to your mom, how heartbreaking was that, call out for you mom, ‘I can’t breathe,'” said Pelosi. “But because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice,” she continued.
Speaker Pelosi at the Congressional Black Caucus presser after Chauvin verdict:
“Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice.” pic.twitter.com/JfapSsKdtX
— The Recount (@therecount) April 20, 2021
Following the speech, Pelosi also tweeted, referring to his death as the world icon to promote the “George Floyd Act” against the repeat of similar situations of “racism, violence & pain.”
George Floyd should be alive today. His family’s calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world. He did not die in vain. We must make sure other families don't suffer the same racism, violence & pain, and we must enact the George Floyd #JusticeInPolicing Act. https://t.co/tWln9NRg1g
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) April 20, 2021
Her remarks that most critics see as bizarre quickly faced backlash on social media. Several argued that Floyd was “murdered,” not submitting his life willingly for the sake of enacting police reform or endorsing racial justice.
Democrat Josh McLaurin, of the Georgia state legislature, found it uncomfortable to accept Pelosi’s Tuesday statement, saying it was “totally inappropriate” while suggesting an apology from the House speaker was in order, reported the Independent.
“But more than that, I think the gaffe clarifies how much this country would benefit from a black speaker of the House,” McLaurin added.
Republican Kim Klacik, the congressional candidate for Maryland, said that “there is one part of this conversation that we never seem to have and that is life is about choices.”
Speaking to Newsmax, Klacik added that since Pelosi had been on Capitol Hill for decades, she is “the system.” Klacik continued, “so if she didn’t like how it works, maybe she should do more instead of just hammering people to fix it.”
In her tweet, journalist Claire Willett said, “Pelosi is out of pocket but she’s also not the only white person who will do this today so this is just a reminder that murder victims don’t “sacrifice” themselves. George Floyd did not choose what happened to him. He wanted to be alive. He begged for it. He was not a martyr.”
Pelosi is out of pocket but she's also not the only white person who will do this today so this is just a reminder that murder victims don't "sacrifice" themselves. George Floyd did not choose what happened to him. He wanted to be alive. He begged for it. He was not a martyr.
— Claire Willett (@clairewillett) April 20, 2021
Chair of the RNC, Ronna McDaniel, while agreeing that there should be action taken to prevent future deaths such as George Floyd’s, she believes Pelosi’s statements, along with Maxine Waters’s recent inciting speech, are “tone-deaf statements.”
We must keep working to prevent tragedies like George Floyd’s death from happening.
But tone-deaf statements from Nancy Pelosi and calls for violence from Maxine Waters are irresponsible.
Democrats and the media should call them out, not largely ignore or defend them.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) April 21, 2021