Pelosi Remarks on Peaceful Protests and President Trump’s Photo-Op
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks in the Speaker’s Ceremonial Office about President Trump’s photo-op outside a church after tear-gassing peaceful protestors. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Last night when I saw the President holding the Bible, I was thinking of so many things in the Bible that would have been appropriate in terms of the humanity of all people in our country, and I was thinking about time. Time is such an – the most important commodity, the most important commodity, the most finite of all commodities. The time it takes to make the change necessary, and it is long overdue time for us to make some of that change that people are calling out for.
And I was thinking of the Book of Ecclesiastes, and in it, they talk about, ‘There is an appointed time for everything,’ Ecclesiastes says in 3:1-8. ‘There is a time for every event under heaven.’ He talks about a time to heal. He talks about a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. How about that for today? A time for peace. Let's focus on a time to heal. The time to heal. We have had, as the role of the President of the United States, the role of commander in chief, the President of the United States, a person who has a responsibility to heal.
President George Herbert Walker Bush spoke out under circumstances similar to now when he said – this after the Rodney King beating. President George Herbert Walker Bush said the following, ‘Those terrible scenes stir us all to demand an end to gratuitous violence and brutality. Law enforcement officials cannot place themselves above the law that they are sworn to defend. It was sickening to see the beating that was rendered, and there is no way, no way in my view, to explain that away. It was outrageous,’ George Herbert Walker Bush after the Rodney King beating.
President Obama said after the murder of Eric Garner, ‘Right now, unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. In some cases, there may be misperceptions, but in some cases, that's a reality. And it is incumbent upon all of us as Americans, regardless of race, religion, region, faith that we recognize this is an American problem and not just a black problem or brown problem or Native American problem. This is an American problem. When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem.’
I do want to quote my colleague, Mr. Clyburn, the distinguished Whip – Democratic Whip of the House. He said this, ‘Firebombing police cars, burning down businesses and ravishing our neighborhoods dishonors the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and will destroy thousands of livelihoods.’
So this is not without concern about what peaceful protest can sometimes lead to by those who would exploit the situation. But it is about how we treat people.
And, again, across our country, as President Obama said the other day, many law enforcement people take pride in what they do and would not identify with the actions taken against George Floyd. But, in fact, it did happen, and it happened in broad daylight. It happened for all the world to see. A knee to the neck not only by the perpetrator of that murder, but by three officers observing it. So, it’s time. It's a time for us to address – and that’s why the concerns were being expressed by the protestors.
This is not an incident, a single incident. We know it is a pattern of behavior. We also know the history that takes us to this sad place. And that's why I'm so proud to work with the Congressional Black Caucus. We call that the conscience of the Congress. The important work they are doing, have been doing over time, and, now, are ready when we come forward with legislation, whether it is to end racial profiling or some of the other – a number of pieces of legislation, police brutality being part of that, but racial profiling, such a universal affliction that we must be rid of.
And so, they will be making recommendations. They will be having their town halls, their hearings. Of course, it is the responsibility of all of us to take the time to heal. But we are looking to them for their values-based, sad experience and their leadership in terms of legislation.
Congresswoman, Madam Chair Karen Bass of California has been very measured and deeply concerned about all of this. Working with our Members, we have many legislative proposals. I look to them to prioritize, to curate them. We have, some of us who want – some of the Members want to have a comprehensive bill, others more individual approach. In a matter of just a short time, those decisions will be made and I think the American people will be well-served.
But we would hope that the President of the United States would follow the lead of so many other Presidents before him to be a healer in chief and not a fanner of the flame. Yesterday, we saw a most unfortunate situation where, before the curfew – the time of the curfew occurred, peaceful demonstrators in front of protesters – in front of the White House were beaten. Some people came out and beat them so they could clear the area so the President could come out and go forward. What is that? That has no place, and it’s time for us to do away with that, ‘a time to heal,’ the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Thank you all very much.