Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) claimed Monday that she is “nonviolent” in response to blowback stemming from her call to protesters to “get more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is cleared in George Floyd’s death.
On Saturday, Waters joined protests outside a police station in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where she urged demonstrators to remain in the streets unless Chauvin is convicted. The chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee attended the event in support of residents who were protesting the recent shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who died after he was shot by now-fired police officer Kim Potter as he resisted arrest and fled from a traffic stop.
“We’re looking for a guilty verdict,” Waters said of Chauvin. “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’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice. But I am very hopeful, and I hope we are going to get a verdict that says ‘guilty, guilty, guilty.’ If we don’t, we cannot go away.”
"I could not rest…without coming here to let the family know…& the people of this community know…that I stand with you and I'm going to stand not only with you but continue to fight in every way that I can for justice." – @RepMaxineWaters attends MN #DaunteWright protest. pic.twitter.com/ReAsGJHpq2
— Status Coup News (@StatusCoup) April 18, 2021
Waters’ remarks drew condemnation from top Republicans, including House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to take action against Waters for what he described as “inciting violence.”
“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,” McCarthy said on Sunday.
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.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 19, 2021
Waters is now moving quickly to quell the firestorm sparked by her comments.
“I am nonviolent,” Waters told TheGrio, before accusing Republican lawmakers of twisting her call to action for political gain.
“Republicans will jump on any word, any line and try to make it fit their message and their cause for denouncing us and denying us, basically calling us violent … any time they see an opportunity to seize on a word, so they do it and they send a message to all of the white supremacists, the KKK, the Oath Keepers, the [Proud] Boys and all of that, how this is a time for [Republicans] to raise money on [Democrats] backs,” she continued.
“This is a time for [Republicans] to keep telling our constituents that [Democrats] are the enemy and they do that time and time again,” she added. “But that does not deter me from speaking truth to power. I am not intimidated. I am not afraid, and I do what needs to be done.”
On the topic of whether she is worried about the possibility of violence if Chauvin is acquitted, Waters said her main concern is the possible “disappointment and hopelessness” black Americans will feel over such a ruling.
“I’m worried about the disappointment of particularly the young people and young Black males who are more and more frightened of the police, afraid to drive their cars when they see police coming and thinking that their lives will be in danger,” Waters stated. “I’m afraid that it further helps to cement the feeling that somehow justice just does not work for us in America. And so whatever that causes, it will cause … I don’t know what will happen, but I know that disappointment and hopelessness is not a good thing.”
Defense attorney Eric Nelson is delivering his closing argument in the Chauvin trial Monday, arguing that Floyd died of underlying heart issues and the use of fentanyl and methamphetamine.