Facing the possibility of censure, Rep. Maxine Waters is brushing off criticism of her urging rioters to “get more confrontational” if Derek Chauvin is acquitted — saying her “words don’t matter” after the judge said she could cause the case to be “overturned.”
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill Monday, Waters outright denied that she was rebuked by the judge overseeing the Chauvin trial, despite that reprimand being seen on camera by millions.
“The judge says my words don’t matter,” she falsely claimed.
When pressed by a CNN reporter on the judge stating that her remarks could be grounds for an appeal, Waters again denied what happened, saying, “Oh no, no they didn’t.”
Speaking to The Grio in an interview earlier Monday, Waters (D-Calif.) dismissed accusations that she had encouraged violence over the weekend, insisting she is “nonviolent.”
The California congresswoman went on to blame Republicans for the outcry over her remarks.
“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,” she told the outlet. “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.”
Waters went on to accuse Republicans of telling constituents that Democrats were “the enemy,” adding, “they do that time and time again.”
“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,” she continued.
Asked specifically about her comments, Waters claimed she was talking about “confronting the justice system” and “legislation.”
“I talk about confronting the justice system, confronting the policing that’s going on, I’m talking about speaking up. I’m talking about legislation. I’m talking about elected officials doing what needs to be done to control their budgets and to pass legislation.”
Waters also said she was “not worried” about rebukes from Republicans and the media, saying, “This is who they are and this is how they act. And I’m not going to be bullied by them.”
As for if she was concerned about the violence erupting in Minnesota and across the country, the 82-year-old lawmaker said she was more concerned about the “disappointment and hopelessness” that an acquittal in the case of Derek Chauvin would bring.
“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,” she explained.
“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,” she continued, “I don’t know what will happen, but I know that disappointment and hopelessness is not a good thing.”
On Sunday, Waters joined hundreds of protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minn., demonstrating against the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man shot by a white police officer who thought she was pulling out her Taser.
The suspect, former officer Kim Potter, has since been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
The city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota were already on edge in the wake of the Chauvin trial, in which former police officer Derek Chauvin is charged with second degree manslaughter and third degree murder in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.
The California lawmaker told the crowd at what was the seventh night of demonstrations after Wright’s killing, “We’ve got to stay in the streets, and we’ve got to demand justice.”
“We’re looking for a guilty verdict,” she continued, referring to 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 got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice.”
Waters went on to say that she was “hopeful” that Chauvin would be convicted, “and if we don’t [get the verdict], we cannot go away.”
Asked if that meant a manslaughter conviction, but a murder acquittal, would be adequate, Waters said no.
“Oh no, not manslaughter, no no,” she remarked. “This is guilty for murder. I don’t know if it was in the first degree, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s first-degree murder.”
As for what the protesters should do if they don’t get the verdict they want, Waters said, “We got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”