Politicians have earned some public backlash for their remarks prior to the announcement of a guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Shortly after he was convicted on Tuesday of three counts in connection with George Floyd’s death, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) thanked Floyd for “sacrificing” his life in a statement she apparently later tried to clarify on Twitter.
“Synonymous with justice”
“Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice,” she said during an event on Capitol Hill following the verdict.
She went on to describe the impact of the case, adding: “For being there to call out to your mom, how heartbreaking was that? And because of you … your name will always be synonymous with justice.”
Following those remarks, her Twitter account posted a statement declaring that “George Floyd should be alive today” and his “family’s calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world.”
Pelosi went on to call for the passage of new police reform measures, stressing the importance of ensuring “other families don’t suffer the same racism, violence & pain.”
A statement from the speaker’s office noted that she had a conversation with Floyd’s family prior to the announcement of the verdict.
“In the most dignified way”
“I spoke to the family to say to them, ‘Thank you, God bless you, for your grace and your dignity, for the model that you are, appealing for justice in the most dignified way.”
It was her remarks about Floyd’s supposed sacrifice, however, that attracted the most attention — and criticism.
“Nancy Pelosi just thanked George Floyd for ‘sacrificing’ his ‘life for justice,'” tweeted conservative pundit Brigitte Gabriel. “These people are sick.”
The comment attracted bipartisan opprobrium, with Democratic Georgia state Rep. Josh McLaurin declaring it “totally inappropriate” and insisting that at “a minimum, she should apologize.”
President Joe Biden reportedly spoke to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz following the verdict. Along with Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden, he also called Floyd’s family. Although Walz and other leaders across the nation prepared for possible violence brought on by the verdict, Chauvin’s conviction was met with widespread celebrations and peaceful marches.