Pelosi faces backlash for thanking George Floyd for ‘sacrificing’ himself

House speaker’s office issues clarification following criticism

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 21 April 2021 12:02
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Nancy Pelosi criticised over George Floyd comments

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was criticised on social media for thanking George Floyd for “sacrificing” his life for racial justice on Tuesday following the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict.

"Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice," Ms Pelosi said during a news conference. "Because of you, and because of millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice."

Her statement was condemned by politicians and activists on social media who reacted with “shock” and “disgust”.

“Speaker Pelosi’s comment about George Floyd was totally inappropriate. At a minimum, she should apologise,” said Democrat Josh McLaurin, of the Georgia state legislature. “But more than that, I think the gaffe clarifies how much this country would benefit from a black speaker of the House.”

Barbara Ransby, a University of Illinois history professor and a black activist, said Floyd was “violently” murdered and his death was not a “sacrifice”.

“Did Pelosi just say ‘George Floyd, thank u 4 sacrificing your life for justice’?” she tweeted. “He did not SACRIFICE his life. His life was violently taken.”

Writer Allie Goertz tweeted: “George Floyd didn’t ‘sacrifice’ himself for white people to learn a lesson. He was murdered and 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," playwright Claire Willett tweeted.

"George Floyd did not choose what happened to him. He wanted to be alive. He begged for it. He was not a martyr,” she added.

Journalist Jewel Wicker wrote: “I can’t believe it’s not common sense that this man did not sacrifice his life for justice.”

Following the backlash, the House speaker’s office issued a clarifying statement on her Twitter account.

“George Floyd should be alive today," Ms Pelosi said in the tweet.

"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."

The former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for the killing of Floyd on Tuesday in a landmark moment in the history of American racial justice.

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in a case that triggered global protests.

Reactions poured in from across the globe, including Joe Biden and Boris Johnson.

Recounting Floyd’s words “I can’t breathe”, the US president said: “Those were George Floyd’s last words. We cannot let them die with him. We have to keep hearing them. We must not turn away. We cannot turn away.”

The UK prime minister tweeted: “I was appalled by the death of George Floyd and welcome this verdict. My thoughts tonight are with George Floyd’s family and friends.”

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