Conservative black icon Candace Owens's uncompromising video critique of George Floyd creates a firestorm

The release of the official copy of the Hennepin County, Minnesota medical examiner's autopsy of George Floyd on Wednesday inspired conservative black commentator Candace Owens to live-stream an 18-minute video commentary that has created a firestorm of blowback — with MSM coverage from as far away as New Zealand and Australia.  Pro and con discussions of Owens on social media including Twitter reached a peak on Thursday, as the first of several memorial services for Floyd, with Al Sharpton delivering the eulogy, was broadcast live from Minneapolis on all four broadcast television networks, PBS, and the three major cable news channels.

Owens's criticism of what she termed the "martyr" status accorded to Floyd is the first high-profile commentary of its kind to hit the mainstream since the death of the 46-year-old African-American man on May 25 while he has being subdued by Minneapolis police after his arrest for an alleged non-violent crime.  Her video is titled "Confession: #GeorgeFloyd is neither a martyr or a hero.  But I hope his family gets justice."  In the video itself (most easily accessible on YouTube), apparently shot on a cell phone, Owens made it clear that "[w]hat I am saying is not any defense for [Floyd's accused murderer] Derek Chauvin.  The family of George Floyd deserves justice for the way that he died."  She added, however, that "I also am not going to accept the narrative that this is the best the black community has to offer."

Candace Owens speaking at the 2019 Turning Point USA's Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Photo by Gage Skidmore Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Owens, who has described herself as a former progressive, emerged in 2017 as a dynamic and articulate supporter of Donald Trump and since then has attracted a large following of conservatives.  Starting in November 2017, she served for a year and a half as communications director of Turning Point USA, a conservative group founded by Charlie Kirk.  Owens appears frequently in the media and has suggested that she might run for office.  In September, her first book, Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its Second Escape from the Democrat Plantation, is scheduled to be published.  Pre-orders of the title at Amazon have already pushed it onto the top twenty list of all best-selling books.

The substance of the core comments by Owens in the video is what sent her critics over the edge:

Everyone is pretending that this man lived a heroic lifestyle. We are embarrassing in that regard. Nobody wants to tell the truth in black America. Our biggest problem is us. ...

For whatever reason it has become fashionable over the last five or six years for us to turn criminals into heroes overnight. It is something I find despicable.

George Floyd was not an amazing person.

Owens said conservative intellectual Shelby Steele "planted the idea in my head" for her commentary.

Shelby Steele said that the black community is unique ... our culture is unique from other communities because we are the only community that caters to the bottom denominator of our society[.] ...

You would be hard pressed to find a Jewish person who has spent five stints in prison, who commits a crime and dies while committing a crime and that the Jewish people demand justice for. You would be hard pressed to find this in white America ... even in Latino America[.] ...

Not every black American is a criminal. Not every black American is committing crimes. But we are unique in that we are the only people that fight and scream and demand support for the people in our community that are up to no good.

Screen shot of Candace Owens's June 3 video on George Floyd.

Owens cited Floyd's autopsy report: "First and foremost George Floyd, at the time of his arrest, was high on fentanyl and methamphetamine."

The Daily Mail in the U.K. noted:

Owens also mentioned a 2007 robbery that Floyd was involved in that involved a pregnant victim and Floyd holding a gun to her abdomen.  "And this was the biggest instant I had that made me realize this is a horrible human being, that I'm not going to pretend is a good person," she said. 

As one might expect, Owens — whose Twitter account has 2.3 million followers — was immediately attacked by waves of social media users, whose criticisms ranged from emotional to obscene and  threatening.  Her tweet linking to her June 3 video — with over 42K retweets as of this writing — has attracted thousands of comments.  The video itself has been viewed 3 million times on Twitter.  Cartoonist (creator of the Dilbert comic strip) and prolific tweeter Scott Adams tweeted in defense of Owens: "#CandaceOwens is trending, and her vicious critics literally have NOTHING to say about her argument, just generic insults. You can't win harder than that."

On Thursday, as reported by the Daily Mail, Owens was among a group of African-Americans invited to a White House meeting on race relations with Vice President Mike Pence.

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