On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused to apologize for accusing Republicans of “trying to get away with murder, the murder of George Floyd.” The Senate Republican Communications Center had demanded an apology, but she refused to give one.
Asked whether or not she would apologize for the incendiary accusation, the House speaker said, “Absolutely, positively not.”
Senate Democrats blocked the JUSTICE Act, a Republican police reform bill Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) put forth. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Pelosi have condemned the bill as “unsalvageable.” They suggested that the Republican reform bill, which includes ten sections with various kinds of reforms, is not even a good starting point for debate on the issue.
“I think you, frankly, in the press have given them far too much credit for a bill that does nothing,” Pelosi said. “They’re saying, ‘Well you have your bill, they have theirs.’ Yeah, our bill does something, theirs does nothing.”
Nancy Pelosi asked if she will apologize for her despicable comment that Senate Republicans are "trying to get away with murder, actually — the murder of George Floyd."
Pelosi: Absolutely, positively not. pic.twitter.com/GXo5pt2rNh
— America Rising (@AmericaRising) June 24, 2020
When Pelosi first accused Republicans of “trying to get away with … the murder of George Floyd,” she slammed the JUSTICE Act for not imposing an outright ban on the practice of police chokeholds.
“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.”
“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.”
Yet 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.”
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) June 18, 2020
Pelosi’s rhetoric is unconscionable, especially considering that protests over the death of George Floyd have devolved into looting, vandalism, 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.
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.
Rather than backing down from her incendiary rhetoric, Pelosi decided to double down on weaponizing a policy dispute to blame Republicans for a heinous police murder. The House should revoke her speakership for 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.