Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, told demonstrators at Saturday night’s protest in Minnesota that they need to “get more confrontational” if former police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted of murder in the death of George Floyd, prompting Republicans to accuse her of stoking an already explosive situation.
Ms. Waters appeared on the seventh straight night of protests in Brooklyn Center over the April 11 death of Daunte Wright, who was shot by an officer during a traffic stop in what the city’s former police chief described as an accident, but she focused most of her remarks on the Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
“We’ve got to stay on the street, and we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational,” Ms. Waters said, as shown on Unicorn Riot video. “We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
Republicans were stunned by her appearance in Brooklyn Center, about 10 miles from Minneapolis, the red-hot center of protest unrest over the convergence of the Wright shooting and trial of Mr. Chauvin in the May 25 death of Floyd.
“Why is Maxine Waters traveling to a different state trying to incite a riot? What good can come from this?” tweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican.
Rep. Ken Buck, Colorado Republican, tweeted: “Why is a sitting member of Congress urging protesters to get ‘confrontational’?”
Mike Berg, National Republican Congressional Committee deputy communications director, tweeted: “Maxine Waters is encouraging rioters who have burned buildings, looted stores, and assaulted journalists to ‘get more confrontational.’ Incredibly irresponsible.”
Closing remarks are expected Monday in the Chauvin trial.
“We’re looking for a guilty verdict. 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 happen, then we know that we’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice,” Ms. Waters said as protesters chanted in the background.
“But I am very hopeful, and I hope that we’re going to get a verdict that is saying guilty, guilty, guilty, and if we don’t, we cannot go away,” she said.
Mr. Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, but Ms. Waters said he should be found guilty of murder.
“Not manslaughter — no, no,” she said. “This is guilty for murder. I don’t know whether it’s in the first degree, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s first-degree murder.”
Asked about the Brooklyn Center curfew, she said she disagreed with it, adding, “I don’t think anything about curfew.”
Ms. Waters said she came to join protesters to “let my voice be heard among all of those who have been putting so much time on the street,” adding that “I’m hopeful that the protests will continue.”