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Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi talks with reporters after a news conference. Eric Risberg/AP

Pelosi Tries to Commemorate Democracy Activists, Gets Interrupted by 2020 Election Denier

As Nancy Pelosi tried to remember the sacrifice of pro-democracy protesters in China, a protester who wanted to subvert democracy here by overturning the 2020 election results made his complaints known.

As lawmakers honored the hundreds — potentially thousands — of pro-democracy protesters killed by the Chinese government this week in 1989, America’s own anti-democracy movement hounded them.

“Hey, Nancy, who ran the fed-surrection parliamentary coup on Jan. 6?” a heckler shouted Tuesday at former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has advocated for human rights in China for decades. The heckler, who wore a shirt referring to a “deep state,” claimed Pelosi conducted “a coup — a coup d’état — on the 2020 election.”

“You and Mike Pence certified an illegal 2020 election,” he shouted as bewildered Chinese dissidents and lawmakers looked on.

“Let me — let me begin,” former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was next in line to speak at the podium, told him. The press conference was held outdoors on the Capitol grounds, where curious passersby and activists often stop to watch events.

Pelosi had just spoken to commemorate Tiananmen Square protesters, who were part of a largely student-led movement in China in 1989 that sought more freedom for the Chinese people.

“He was being very rude, because we’re talking about people who gave their lives for democracy,” Pelosi told NOTUS of the heckler. “I don’t know what he was talking about.”

Some of former President Donald Trump’s most ardent fans have sought to pin the blame on Pelosi for security failures on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump’s supporters overran the Capitol and tried to cancel lawful election results. They’ve also claimed, without evidence, that the events of that day were the fault of law enforcement provocateurs rather than Trump, who urged his supporters to be in Washington for Congress’ certification of the results and then told them to march to the Capitol.

For Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the top Democrat on the select committee on competition with the Chinese government, the protester highlights how much freer people in the United States are than in China.

“The election denier illustrated the beauty of democracy and freedom,” he told NOTUS. “To be able to do what he did — there’s no way he could do that in Tiananmen Square, which just reminded us of why we’re here commemorating Tiananmen Square.”

Protesters who seek to honor the activists killed that day face arrest and imprisonment in China and Hong Kong.

“Tiananmen Square is about fighting all attempts to quash freedom, and I’m glad that guy had his freedom to say his piece too,” Krishnamoorthi said.


Haley Byrd Wilt is a reporter at NOTUS.