“The martyrdom of George Floyd gave the American experience a moment of national anguish,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday, including the Minnesotan who died in police custody among her list of “names of martyrdom.”
At a press conference introducing Democrats’ “Justice in Policing Act,” Pelosi said that she and her colleagues knelt for more than eight minutes on Monday because Floyd’s death was “a continuation of some horror” that has been long-present in America:
“When George Floyd called out for his mother when he was subjected to that knee in the neck, it was just a continuation of some horror that has existed in our country for a very long time.
“So, as to Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Hoyer – Mr. Hoyer, our distinguished Leader, Mr. Clyburn, our Whip, join Karen Bass, Leader Schumer, two Senators, leaders on this issue, Congresswoman Harris – Senator. Did I say Senator? Senator Harris, Senator Booker in Emancipation Hall, aptly named for those who built the Capitol of the United States, in their honor. We were there for eight minutes and 46 seconds on our knees. My Members will attest, it is a very long time. It is a very long time. And I graciously led them in falling over when it was over so that they could do the same thing.”
Pelosi then declared Floyd a martyr has earned his place among other prominent Black martyrs who died at the hands of police:
“But here we are, the martyrdom of George Floyd gave the American experience a moment of national anguish as we grieve for the Black Americans killed by police brutality. Today, this moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action, as Americans from across the country peacefully protest to demand an end to injustice. Today, with the Justice in Policing Act, the Congress is standing with those fighting for justice and taking action.
“Let us, my colleagues, just go over some of those names of martyrdom: George Floyd, [Jordan] Davis, Oscar Grant, so sad, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin. My colleagues, any other names you want to add?”
Pelosi called it “a pretty exciting time,” because “the martyrdom of George Floyd has made a change in the world” by inspiring her legislation:
“So, we feel very confident about the path we are on, not only with this legislation, but what will come next. And we’ll do so listening. As Steny said, ‘We hear you. We see you,’ and your views are important to us as we go forward.
“It's a pretty exciting time. This is a transformational piece of legislation. This is an important day. The martyrdom, the martyrdom of George Floyd – and by Tuesday, by tomorrow may he rest in peace – has made a change in the world. So, let's not get into these questions that may be from the small minds of some – but – about as far as safety is concerned, but look at it writ large.”