Nancy Pelosi speech after Derek Chauvin murder verdict panned as offensive

Alex Shultz, SFGATE April 20, 2021 (SFGate.com)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joins fellow Democrats from the House and Senate to kneel in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on June 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C. 
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joins fellow Democrats from the House and Senate to kneel in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on June 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Shortly after former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., delivered a bizarre speech that immediately angered and disturbed people following along on social media.

“Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice,” Pelosi said. “For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that?” she interjected. “Call out to your mom, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But because of you, thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice. And now we have to make sure justice prevails in the sentencing. But, you know, that’s its own procedure.”

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Pelosi’s offering of thanks, her equivocation of Floyd’s murder with a sacrifice, implying that he was in any way willing to die by police violence, was met with condemnation. A short sampling of tweets are below. 

Conflating “being murdered” for “sacrificing your life” is the sort of statement you make when you have no skin in the game and eager to return to peaceable status quo ASAP https://t.co/eulKRLi9o8— austin walker (@austin_walker) April 20, 2021

No. This is not it. Black people are not sacrificial lambs. He was killed because of injustice not as a symbol of anything. He was a human. A man. A father. A brother. Let’s not do this.— Lindsey Appiah (@LAppiah) April 20, 2021

Others wondered aloud how Pelosi, 81, who’s been a powerful politician for more than three decades and has a net worth of roughly $114 million, could issue such a tone-deaf statement during a moment when quite literally anything else would’ve sufficed.

Pelosi and/or her communications team have since attempted a nonapology redo of her speech on Twitter. “George Floyd should be alive today,” her account tweeted. “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.”

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