As far as Rep. Maxine Waters is concerned, making fiery comments in the middle of a Minnesota protest was part of her role as “Auntie Maxine.”
The California Democrat defended her much-criticized appearance Saturday in Brooklyn Center, where she said that protesters need to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if a Minneapolis jury acquits ex-police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.
Asked Sunday about her comments, she said she wanted to show support for “young people who are struggling to make the justice system work for everybody.”
“They see their peers being killed. Minneapolis is a great example of what’s wrong with the criminal justice system, what’s wrong with policing, and so those of us who hold significant positions must stand up, we must support them, we must speak, we must call for justice,” Ms. Waters told MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart. “We cannot leave them alone to try and fight this very difficult system.”
Ms. Waters has been accused by Republicans of inciting violence, but she had a more benign interpretation of her actions.
“I wanted to be there kind of as auntie Maxine, to show them that not only do I love them and I support them, but they can count on me to be there with them at this terrible time in all of our lives,” she said.
In an interview Monday with theGrio, Ms. Waters insisted that “I am nonviolent” and pushed back against her GOP critics.
“I am not worried that they’re going to continue to distort what I say,” she said. “This is who they are and this is how they act. And I’m not going to be bullied by them.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nevertheless called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take action against the long-serving congresswoman for what he described as her “dangerous rhetoric.”
Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Jennifer Carnahan called Monday on Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison to condemn Ms. Waters’ “incendiary remarks.”
At the protest, Ms. Waters told reporters, as shown on video: “We’ve 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.”
The Chauvin trial saw closing statements Monday as Minneapolis and other major cities braced for an uptick in protest violence.
Mr. Chauvin, who is White, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25 death of Floyd, who was Black, while in police custody.
No arrests were made Sunday night after a dwindling crowd of protesters gathered for the eighth straight night in Brooklyn Center, where 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed April 11 during a traffic stop. Former Officer Kim Potter has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in his death.
More than 30 businesses were looted and vandalized in the first two nights of protests in Brooklyn Center, which is about 10 miles from the Hennepin County Courthouse, site of the Chauvin trial.