In comments made after Tuesday’s murder conviction of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thanked George Floyd for “sacrificing your life for justice.”
“For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that — call out for your mom, ‘I can’t breathe,’ ” she continued in her remarks, which came during an event with the Congressional Black Caucus on Capitol Hill. “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.”
The congresswoman’s suggestion that Floyd had sacrificed himself drew a backlash online, where a clip of her words circulated Tuesday night and into Wednesday. On Twitter, people reacted with shock and outrage.
“He did not SACRIFICE his life,” tweeted Barbara Ransby, an activist and University of Illinois professor. “His life was violently taken.”
Others made similar observations.
“Nancy Pelosi’s take is awful and tone deaf,” wrote screenwriter Randi Mayem Singer. “George Floyd didn’t ‘sacrifice’ his life. He was not a soldier who died in battle. He was an American citizen murdered by a cop.”
Josh McLaurin, a Democratic state representative in Georgia, called Pelosi’s comments “totally inappropriate.”
“At a minimum, she should apologize,” he added. “But more than that, I think the gaffe clarifies how much this country would benefit from a Black Speaker of the House.”
Pelosi later tweeted a quote from her comments, adding: “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.”
A jury on Tuesday convicted Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd. The closely watched trial came almost a year after witness video of the 46-year-old Black man struggling for breath beneath the knee of the White police officer sparked widespread demands for justice.