San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi participated in an interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC’s This Week to discuss the response to the killing of George Floyd, The Heroes Act, House Democrats’ urgently-needed legislation to address the COVID-19 health and economic crisis and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
George Stephanopoulos. There you see protestors gathering in city hall in San Francisco last night, the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She’s now America’s highest ranking Democrat, and when we spoke late yesterday, she began with her message for a country in crisis.
Speaker Pelosi. My message is let’s come together. Let’s be prayerful, especially on a Sunday morning, about how we can put our differences aside, because this is the greatest country in the world. And we want to live up to the legacy of America.
George Stephanopoulos. That doesn’t seem to be what is happening right now. We’ve seen cities erupting over the last several days, and Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota has said now that the protestors have gone far beyond the murder of George Floyd. They say it’s about attacking civil society and instilling fear and disrupting our great cities. Is he correct?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I do think that there’s a place for protest at the sign of a knee going into the neck of a person who is not offering resistance or even if he were, disproportionate response from the police. When you have a crowd, you will have those who will disrupt, and that is most unfortunate.
As my colleague from St. Paul has told me, 80 percent of the people who were arrested or taken into custody following what was happening there were from out of the area. So, again, let’s not – let’s be – let’s have a look at what really is happening, who is taking what actions. But we should not, we should not ignore the fact that there is a room for peaceful protests in all this.
George Stephanopoulos. Do you think justice has yet been served in the George Floyd case with the arrest of the single officer or should the other officers be arrested as well?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I’ve said right from the start that it was murder. We saw an execution of a person on TV. We saw it happen, a knee to the neck. There were others there who witnessed it, who were – would be considered in other circumstances accomplices to it. I had my own concern about a murder three charge. I haven’t seen a situation where there’s a scene of the crime, and people haven’t been taken into custody immediately.
But let’s hope that justice will be done, as we go forward. I think there were some unfortunate statements made that were provocative in terms of the outbursts of concern that we are seeing.
So, I do think – I’m very proud of the calm work of our Congressional Black Caucus, of our Judiciary Committee on how we go forward, really following up on initiatives they had already taken in light of the fact that there have been – this is not the first time. This is part of a pattern, and we just have to make sure that as we seek normal, that it’s a new normal, as President Obama said, where we don’t have all of this injustice and the violence that goes with it.
George Stephanopoulos. You mentioned those unfortunate statements. Are you referring to President Trump’s tweets, including one where he said, ‘When the shooting – when the looting starts, the shooting starts?’
Speaker Pelosi. No. I’m not paying too much attention to what the President says. I’m talking about the injustice, the knee in the neck.
I talked about President Obama. If I said Trump forgive me. I’m talking about President Obama saying that if we go to normal, back to – people say, ‘Let’s go back to normal.’ Well, normal hasn’t been so great for a lot of people. Let’s make sure normal is consistent with liberty and justice for all.
I kind of ignore what President Trump says.
George Stephanopoulos. You ignore him, but at the same time, he’s been continuing to tweet and speak out. Today, he’s attacking the protestors, saying it’s part of the far left. He’s attacking the mayor of Minneapolis and the mayor of Washington D.C. What should the President of the United States be doing right now?
Speaker Pelosi. The President of the United States should bring dignity to the office that he serves. He should be a unifying force in our country.
We have seen that with Democratic and Republican presidents all along. They have seen their responsibility to be the President of the United States, to unify our country. And not to fuel the flame. Not to fuel the flame.
And, I think to take his bait time and time again is just a gift to him, because he always wants to divert attention from what the cause of the response was, rather than to describe it in his own terms.
George Stephanopoulos. What should Congress do right now? Your colleague, Hakeem Jeffries, has introduced legislation to ban chokeholds, to ban those knees to the neck by police.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah
George Stephanopoulos. Will the House move to pass that now?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we have a number of pieces of legislation. Mr. Jeffries is the Chair of our Caucus. His words have great weight. Congresswoman Barbara Lee has legislation to look at the full picture. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson has a bill establishing a commission studying the social status of black men and boys and how we can help change that situation. The list goes on. There are many. There is a motion condemning police brutality.
In addition to that, this is happening at a time of other injustices. The fact is that the coronavirus has taken an undue toll among people of color. This, again, is an injustice. And part of what we have in our Heroes Act and previous legislation is to say, we must test; we must trace; we must treat; and we must isolate in a way that really establishes what – where this is taking the biggest toll.
Why should there be more disproportionate deaths among people of color? Because we are not really testing in those communities to treat and save lives.
George Stephanopoulos. Madam Speaker, thank you for your time this morning.
Speaker Pelosi. My pleasure. Thank you so much, George.
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