House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) finally, and explicitly, condemned violent rioters after months of violent protests in Democrat-controlled cities across the nation, stating that Democrats “support” and “participate” in “peaceful demonstrations.”
“We support peaceful demonstrations. We participate in them. They are part of the essence of our democracy. That does not include looting, starting fires, or rioting. They should be prosecuted. That is lawlessness,” the speaker said on the House floor on Thursday:
Speaker Pelosi: “We support peaceful demonstrations. We participate in them. They are part of the essence of our democracy. That does not include looting, starting fires, or rioting. They should be prosecuted. That is lawlessness.” pic.twitter.com/Xq89RLR70f
— The Hill (@thehill) September 17, 2020
“I’m very proud that Joe Biden has presented the clarity of that. Making a distinction that I don’t think our colleagues quite understand, but the American people do,” she continued, citing a poll which, she said, shows that Americans “support congressional Democrats over President Trump in terms of dealing with the issue of crime in our country, for all of their misrepresentations.”
For months, Democrats on various levels of leadership have come under fire for largely failing to explicitly condemn the violent protests dominating U.S. cities with meaningful force. In many cases, leaders, such as Portland Mayor Tom Wheeler (D), have instead cracked down on the police. Last week, Wheeler, who also serves as the city’s police commissioner, effectively banned Portland Police from using tear gas to disperse violent rioters. The Portland Police Bureau responded in a statement, stating that CS gas “is a significantly lower level of force than impact weapons, which would very likely be necessary to disperse riotous groups with its prohibition.” The mayor reprimanded the bureau’s public plea, calling it “a serious breach of protocol and an inappropriate use of City communications resources.”
Other Democrat leaders have also taken aim at police departments, echoing the call of radical Black Lives Matter protesters to defund the police.
Pelosi attended a protest for George Floyd in D.C. in June but, notably, had security guards at her side.
In July, Pelosi failed to forcefully condemn activists tearing down a statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, telling reporters, “People will do what they do.”
Last month, the speaker accused President Trump of making protests worse by, she said, encouraging “vigilantes” to get involved, heightening tensions in areas like Kenosha.
“We all respect peaceful demonstrations. We don’t want them to be exploited by outside groups. be they vigilantes and the rest, to stir it on,” she said last month.