House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing criticism online after saying during a press conference in the wake of the Derek Chauvin conviction that George Floyd sacrificed his life “for justice.”
Pelosi made the comments as she spoke alongside the Congressional Black Caucus outside the US Capitol following news that Chauvin, a former police officer, was convicted on all charges in the murder of Floyd last May.
“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 your mom, ‘I can’t breathe.’ 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 said.
The comments drew swift blowback online from many who criticized Pelosi for “martyring” Floyd and said he should be alive today.
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
During her remarks, Pelosi also said she spoke to the family of George Floyd and expressed hope that the verdict would pave the way for enactment of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House last year but faces opposition in the Senate.
A Pelosi spokesperson referred the Globe to a tweet sent shortly after the press conference that sought to clarify her remarks. In it, she reposted a tweet about her comments and said, “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.”
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
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus gathered on Friday to speak about the verdict in the Chauvin trial after the former officer was convicted of all three counts in Floyd’s murder.
Among those who spoke at the press conference outside the Capitol Tuesday was Representative Karen Bass, who said that “for a moment, we have a little bit of relief” following the verdict.
The jury of six white people and six Black or multiracial people came back with its verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days. The now-fired white officer was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.