Bob Casey Says Video of George Floyd's Death Had the Same 'Impact' as 9/11

Bob Casey (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
February 14, 2024

To Senator Bob Casey, just one event over the past quarter century has had as great an impact on the United States as the death of George Floyd: the 9/11 attacks, in which 2,977 Americans were murdered.

The Pennsylvania Democrat made the surprising comparison in June 2020, amid protests over Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

"I'm not sure there's been a video that has had more impact on the American people in recent American history," Casey said. "I can't think of one that's even close, maybe all the way back to 9/11, that had that kind of impact on people's thinking."

Casey praised the protests that followed Floyd's death for "help[ing] us pass legislation and make change" to what he called "systemic racism throughout our criminal justice system."

Those remarks could come back to haunt Casey in his bid for reelection. Republican frontrunner Dave McCormick has zeroed in on Casey's support for progressive prosecutors as evidence that the senator is soft on crime. A group of 47 Pennsylvania sheriffs endorsed McCormick this week, citing the businessman's support for funding police and boosting border security.

"Our communities all across the commonwealth are affected by crime, and we need a Senator who will work with us, not against us, to solve problems," said Cumberland County sheriff Jody Smith.

Casey has said he opposes the movement to defund police, but he has touted groups like Black Lives Matter, which support anti-police initiatives. After Floyd's death, Casey introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, which lowered the threshold by which police can be prosecuted. "We must end police brutality and systematic racism in policing," Casey said.

In August 2020, Casey praised the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and other sports leagues for boycotting games over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. Blake, who is black, was shot after brandishing a knife during an arrest for violating a restraining order. Blake had a warrant out for his arrest for third-degree sexual assault.

Casey faces a litmus test of sorts on those issues in the upcoming confirmation vote for Adeel Mangi, whom President Joe Biden nominated to a federal appeals court. Mangi, who if confirmed will have jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, served on the advisory board of the Rutgers Law School Center for Race, Security and Rights, a think tank that hosted an event on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian.

Mangi served on the board of the Legal Aid Society, which supports the movement to defund police. He is also on the advisory board of the Alliance of Families for Justice, which lobbied for the parole of six convicted cop-killers, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther party member who murdered a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The National Association of Police Organizations last month called on senators to vote against Mangi over his affiliation with groups that support cop-killers and the movement to defund police.

McCormick and the conservative Judicial Crisis Network have called on Casey to vote against Mangi over the nominee's left-wing affiliations. Casey's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Democrats often compare 9/11 to far less lethal events. During the 2022 Senate campaign, Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) said he had a "similar" feeling after the January 6 Capitol riot as during 9/11. "It was jarring," Fetterman said.