Yesterday’s verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty for the death of George Floyd, provided a lot of hope to people who want to see a change in a system they believe is inherently against them. Even those who don’t see systemic racism in law enforcement are still relieved to see that the justice system, in this case, worked.
But, as with every good moment in history, there will always be frankly horrifying moments. One of the most egregious takes from yesterday’s reaction to the verdict, though, has to belong to Nancy Pelosi, who gave a truly bizarre public statement in the aftermath of the jury’s decision.
.@SpeakerPelosi speaking at presser with CBC: Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice…Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous for justice.
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) April 20, 2021
This is really a horrifying statement that was, rightly, trashed by the left and right in a rare moment of bipartisan disgust. While some would chalk Pelosi’s statements up to just poor phrasing, whether intentional or not, they show one of the most problematic philosophies that many politicians hold when it comes to the average American citizen.
To politicians, the average person is simply part of a greater transaction. Every life is good for something else. In this case, Pelosi’s reaction to the verdict against Derek Chauvin is that George Floyd’s life was a necessary cost for scoring a moral victory against an unjust system. Calling Floyd a “sacrifice” devalues his life and death, but it’s really what they think of people like Floyd, who help them advance an agenda.
Floyd’s life is merely one of many pawns the left wants to utilize to create structural reforms, and Pelosi’s remarks yesterday make it clear that she doesn’t really see him as anything else. Other politicians have jumped in during this trial to pile on to both Chauvin and the system, which made for great soundbites, but some analysts believe also gave the defense ample ammunition for an appeal.
That agenda, though, is currently fraught with problems. The loudest activists call for abolishing all law enforcement — a call that Pelosi and top Democrats are struggling to contain — and at night, protests still turn to violent riots as it becomes clear that it’s not justice they seek, but a total dismantling of the system as a whole.
It is appalling how Floyd’s life is being used by people who seem less and less to care for actual justice for him, and more and more seek to use it to advance a cause beyond the reason he died (that reason being a police officer using too much force against a black man). He did not die so that the entire system could be torn down. His life was not a sacrifice in any way. It was taken from him by a bad cop (one the politicians and activists may have saved with their comments and destructive habits).
By the way, if Pelosi and others wanted to tackle such an unjust system, you don’t need to sacrifice anyone’s life to raise awareness. As my colleague Kira Davis mentioned yesterday, Democrats had the chance to help get the ball rolling on law enforcement reform, but they helped defeat it because they did not like Tim Scott, the black Republican Senator who was pushing it.