Did Rep. Maxine Waters incite violence in Minneapolis?


Fact Box

  • On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African American man, died while in police custody and under the knee of officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on May 29.
  • Saturday, April 17, 2021, Rep. Maxine Waters requested Brooklyn Minnesota demonstrators “to stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” in light of recent police shooting and Chauvin’s trial, which went to the jury after a full day of closing arguments. 
  • Waters has been known to be a “lightning rod” for controversy. Her remarks have brought comments from both sides. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her saying, “she talked about confrontation in the manner of the Civil Rights Movement” while Republican leaders accused her of “inciting violence” and demanded her removal. 
  • Judge Peter Cahill rejected a request for mistrial regarding Waters’ comments. He said, “I wish 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.” 
  • On Wednesday, April 14, 2021 26-year Officer Kim Potter was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.

Bill (Yes)

Maxine Waters is a congresswoman from California, elected to serve her constituents' interests. It's difficult to see how a voter in Torrance, CA benefitted from Waters' disgraceful appearance in Minneapolis over the weekend, where she addressed protesters with inflammatory language such as 'we've got to stay on the street…we've got to get more confrontational.' Waters continued her incendiary remarks by pre-judging the outcome of the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin. She sided against the officer and showed her contempt for law and order by exhorting the angry Minneapolis mob to stay vigilant on the eve of the verdict. 'We cannot go away,' she proudly declared should the jury not produce the guilty verdict they're seeking.  

Waters' provocative rhetoric is especially troubling in the wake of the 140+ Minneapolis businesses burned, looted, and destroyed by rioters since an April 11th police shooting in the city. It's also coming on the heels of the riots less than a year ago in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd (for which Derek Chauvin is on trial). The 2020 riot damage totaled more than $350 million as more than 1000 businesses were ruined or ravaged. 

Waters' appearance in Minneapolis could have been justified if her intent was to quell the mob violence and destruction. If she had healing words of peace and restraint, she could have been a force for good. As an elected member of Congress, she has national standing and can command media coverage. Instead, Waters' forfeited her role as a leader by casting her lot with the rioters. Her congressional colleagues should take appropriate action against Waters to send a clear message that her conduct is unacceptable. 

Kevin (No)

Rep. Waters did encourage the protesters to continue demanding justice, but to suggest that she did so in a way that incited violence would require one to take her statements out of context. Her appearance at the demonstration was a fairly typical show of support from a politician. She didn't call for acts of violence against people or destruction of property, and her demeanor was calm as she delivered her words. The protesters around Minneapolis themselves have been largely peaceful, so to say that supporting them is inciting violence is mischaracterizing the situation. Unicorn Riot has had a reporter on the scene since the protests started after the killing of Daunte Wright, and more often than not, it has been the police inciting violence on peaceful protesters. If anything, her presence more likely had a calming effect for both the demonstrators and police.

It should be noted that at least two of Rep. Waters' accusers, Kevin McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor-Greene, are members of Congress who have been recruiting for the 'America First Caucus,' which espouses 'Anglo-Saxon political tradition.' This phrasing is eerily reminiscent of that used by neo-Nazis and other far-right groups. Taken literally, 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' pre-date modern English, which seems to indicate that this is actually a reference to White Supremacist 'culture.' It is a common tactic of such groups to paint marginalized communities and political rivals as 'enemies of the people,' and all things considered, this appears to be a clear example of such tactics being put to use.

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