Nancy Pelosi Thanked George Floyd For Sacrificing Himself?

The Speaker of the House had some questionable comments right after Derek Chauvin’s conviction.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

As we’ve all heard, Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death sparked some of the largest civil rights protests not only in the country, but the world this past summer. Among those sharing their thoughts following the conviction was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose prepared remarks began generating backlash shortly after. In her speech she said:

“Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out for your Mom. How heartbreaking was that? ‘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.”

I’m sure Pelosi never meant any harm by her words, but in reading what had been prepared for her shouldn’t she have paused at the word sacrifice, and questioned it?

George Floyd did not sacrifice himself. He was murdered. He did not willingly allow Derek Chauvin to put his knee on his neck for nine minutes for his name to become “synonymous with justice”, or give his life to a cause. He was a father whose life was taken from him.

Among those sharing their comments on Pelosi’s remarks, perhaps no one put it better than Adam Serwer, who said:

“This framing of Floyd’s murder turns the death of a real human being into the cinematic trope of the kindly black supporting character sacrificed for the growth and redemption of the narrative’s white protagonists.”

With an even more understandably cynical takeaway, Twitter user mousdvr said:

“What I hear: ‘Thank you George Floyd, we shall use your death and the frankly unexpected conviction of your murderer, to sheep dog voters to our morally bankrupt party without making our donors uncomfortable. That’s a huge win win right there’ That’s low…”

I mean, after the Kente cloth stunt over the summer, can we really be surprised someone viewed her words this way?

The way I see it Chauvin’s conviction wasn’t justice, but accountability. Accountability that we rarely ever see when a Police officer has blood on their hands. This conviction wasn’t the end, but the beginning. The beginning to a much larger, deeper fight for real systemic reforms that — my guess is — Nancy Pelosi will have no interest in.

Of all the ways the speech stood out to me, perhaps the most significant was, as Serwer observed, the lack of humanity. George Floyd was a person, not a sacrifice for a cause. Why is he being thanked for being murdered? Why is he being thanked for calling out to his dead mother? As a career politician, you would think she should be a little more aware of phrasing and optics.

All that being said, for reasons one can imagine, I plan on addressing conservative responses as well.

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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