Was Maxine Waters encouraging violence? The representative from California called for protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” on Saturday if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted. Now Americans on both sides of the aisle are debating whether her words went too far.
According to CNN, Republicans seized on those words, claiming the Congresswoman was inciting violence. She denied those accusations in an interview, claiming she was not encouraging violence. Instead, she says her remarks were “nonviolent.” She admitted that she intended to be “confrontational” but that was in regard to changing the justice system if Chauvin got anything less than a murder charge.
Whatever the intention of the comments, the judge overseeing Chauvin’s trial warned that Maxine Waters’ comments could be grounds for a mistrial appeal. “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Judge Peter Cahill told defense attorney Eric Nelson on Monday.
Waters was in Brooklyn Center Minnesota to show her support for protesters who took to the streets over the last week in response to the police killing of Daunte Wright. The combination of outrage over Wright’s death and the anticipation of the verdict in Chauvin’s trial has caused a lot of unrest in Brooklyn Center, as well as in other major cities.
Waters told reporters that “we’ve got to stay in the street and demand justice.” The Congresswoman, along with many other political rights activists are “looking for a guilty verdict and we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd. If nothing does not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice.”
On Monday, the defense moved for a mistrial over the recent publicity in the case, which includes TV shows and the comments Waters made. Nelson, the defense attorney accused Waters’ remarked on the subject of being a “threat” against the sanctity of the jury process.
Judge Cahill admitted that he heard Waters’ comments and that he wished “elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.” He then added that he thinks “if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a coequal branch of government.”
The Judge believes that Congresswoman overstepped and that her “opinion doesn’t matter a whole lot.”
After hearing about Cahill’s comments and the possibility that her words could be grounds for an appeal, Waters replied, “Oh no, no they didn’t.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Waters, according to MSN. When asked if Waters should apologize for her comments, the speaker responded, “No, she doesn’t.”
“Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement. I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family,” Pelosi continued. “They’ve handled this with great dignity and no ambiguity or lack of misinterpretation by the other side. No, no, I don’t think she should apologize.”
Others – including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – disagree. “Maxine Waters is inciting violence in Minneapolis — just as she has incited it in the past. If Speaker Pelosi doesn’t act against this dangerous rhetoric, I will bring action this week.”