House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called on President Trump to be a “healer in chief and not a fanner of the flames” as violence erupts in mass protests across the nation for the past week.
Speaking with reporters at a bill enrollment ceremony on Tuesday, Pelosi took out her bible and began reading from the book of Ecclesiastes. She then cited previous presidents statements who were also faced with a similar crisis, including former President George H.W. Bush, who urged unity following the Rodney King riots, and former President Obama, who called for healing following the death of Eric Garner during an arrest in 2014, as actions the president should be taking.
“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 flames,” Pelosi said.
She criticized President Trump’s visit to the historic St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., that was set on fire by rioters during Sunday protest and held up a Bible in front of the place of worship. According to reports, Trump ordered the military personnel to clear out the protesters in front of Lafayette Square Park in which the military forcibly cleared the protesters away from the White House using tear gas and riot shields.
“Last night when I saw the president holding up 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,” the California Democrat said. “Yesterday we saw a most unfortunate situation where before the curfew, peaceful demonstrators in front of protesters, in front of the White House were beaten. 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.”
On the nationwide protests and unrest that has sparked for the past week since the death of George Floyd in police custody, Pelosi said it is time for lawmakers to acknowledge the frustration and outrage in those protesting over Floyd’s death and the history of police brutality toward African Americans.
“This is not a single incident. We know it is a pattern of behavior. We also know the history that takes us to this sad place,” Pelosi said. It is incumbent upon all of us as Americans — regardless of race, religion, region, faith — that we recognize that this is an American problem, and not just a black problem or a brown problem or a 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.”
Pelosi said her party is working on a series of legislative proposals that will be led by the Congressional Black Caucus to address racial profiling and police brutality. Pelosi said her members are working overtime on racial profiling legislation that she said is a “universal affliction that we must be rid of.” Currently, there are more than 40 bills addressing law enforcement reform that are still under consideration.
“It’s long overdue time for us to make some of that change that people were calling out for,” Pelosi said.