News & Politics

Pelosi Accuses Republicans of 'Trying to Get Away With ... the Murder of George Floyd'

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

On Tuesday, as Senate Democrats rejected Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) police reform bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Republicans of “trying to get away with murder, the murder of George Floyd.”

Pelosi acted as though the Republican police reform bill did not advance reform at all.

“We’re saying no chokeholds,” Pelosi told CBS Radio. “They’re not saying no chokeholds. I mean, there’s a big difference there. What’s the compromise? Some chokeholds? I don’t see what the compromise is.”

“They understand that there’s a need to get something done. The press has given them so much play for this threadbare, unsalvagable piece of legislation and they say, ‘Well can’t you compromise with that?’ No, because it is ‘no,’ and we are ‘yes.’ It isn’t ‘maybe,'” she argued.

“For something to happen, they’re going to have to face the reality of police brutality, the reality of the need for justice in policing, and the recognition that there are many, many good people in law enforcement, but not all and that we have to address those concerns,” Pelosi said. “So far they’re trying to get away with murder, actually. The murder of George Floyd.”

These incendiary comments followed news that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a letter condemning the Republican JUSTICE Act as “not salvageable.”

“We will not meet this moment by holding a floor vote on the JUSTICE Act, nor can we simply amend this bill, which is so threadbare and lacking in substance that it does not even provide a proper baseline for negotiations. The bill is not salvageable and we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point,” Schumer argued.

Yet the JUSTICE Act does advance many important reforms, including a federal system to track police shootings, requiring police departments to report no-knock warrants such as the horrific incident in which police officers shot Breonna Taylor, a grant program to help police departments gain access to more body cameras, a commission on the social status of black men and boys, police training on alternatives to the use of force and de-escalation, reforms to law enforcement hiring and education, and more.

Contrary to Pelosi’s claims, the JUSTICE Act does introduce incentives for local police departments to ban chokeholds. As Scott explains in a video on the act, most police departments have already banned chokeholds, so the act would make such bans necessary for departments to receive federal funding. According to a summary, the JUSTICE Act “requires that all States and local units of government put in place touch policies severely restricting the use of chokeholds, except in situations where deadly force is authorized.”

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The JUSTICE Act may not be perfect, but claims that it is “unsalvageable” are hyperbolic.

Far worse, of course, was Pelosi’s suggestion that Republicans like Tim Scott were “trying to get away with … the murder of George Floyd” via the JUSTICE Act.

Such rhetoric is unconscionable, especially considering that protests over the death of George Floyd have devolved into lootingvandalism, and arson across America that destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. Pelosi’s comments weaponized one specific policy dispute between Republicans and Democrats and effectively incited violence against Republicans like Tim Scott.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Michael McAdams said “Nancy Pelosi needs to immediately apologize to Republicans for her deplorable accusations.”

When racial tensions are at a fever pitch and rioters are tearing down statues, Nancy Pelosi decided to accuse Republicans of trying to get away with the murder of George Floyd — because they want to incentivize local chokehold bans, rather than banning them through an act of Congress.

This sounds unbelievable, but remember, this is the same Nancy Pelosi who stalled coronavirus relief legislation in order to weaponize the coronavirus crisis and push her own far-left agenda on vote-by-mail, LGBT financial literacy, collective bargaining for unions, mandates for airlines to report the exact amount of carbon emissions on every flight beforehand, and a $15/hour minimum wage.

Throughout the crisis, Democrats rallied in order to capitalize on coronavirus. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) released a video revealing their despicable opportunism.

“This would be a terrible crisis to waste, as the old saying goes,” Hillary Clinton says in the video. “It’s important for us to put forth our bill now, without too much conversation with other people,” chimes in Pelosi. “We have real concerns about giving away leverage now without getting some of the priorities that we need,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) says.

“We have an incredible opportunity to not just dig out of this crisis but to fundamentally transform the country,” adds presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, echoing his previous statements about the coronavirus crisis being a “wake up call” for climate change and an “opportunity” for institutional change. The video also references Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)’s statement that the coronavirus crisis represents “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Now, it seems Democrats are applying that strategy to the George Floyd riots — even as they downplay the destructiveness of those very riots. Yet Pelosi did more than just try to capitalize on the crisis — she demonized her political opponents by tying them to the murder of George Floyd.

“Despicable” doesn’t even begin to cover this.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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