Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., justified her remarks encouraging protesters in Minnesota after Republicans slammed her for encouraging confrontations in the event that former police officer Derek Chauvin is not convicted of murder for the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter for Floyd’s death, after a confrontation where Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson is presenting the defense that Floyd’s death may have been the result of other factors, such as a heart condition or drugs.
“We’ve got to stay on the street and we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational,” Waters suggested when discussing what people should do if Chauvin is not convicted of murder. “We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
On Sunday, Waters was in Minnesota supporting the protesters and she explained why she was there in an interview with MSNBC.
“We have to give support to our young people who are struggling and trying to make this justice system work for everybody,” she said. “They see their peers being killed. Minneapolis is a great example of what is 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 out, we must call for justice. We cannot leave them alone to try to fight this very difficult system.”
Waters mentioned that in addition to the Chauvin trial, Minnesota was also the site of another police-involved death of a Black man. Daunte Wright died after now-former officer Kimberly Potter shot him during a traffic stop. Police said the shooting was an “accidental discharge” of Potter’s firearm that took place when Potter meant to use her Taser instead.
“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 with them at this terrible time in all of our lives,” Waters said.
Closing arguments in the trial are set to take place Monday.
Waters also addressed an incident from a congressional hearing last week, in which she told Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to “shut your mouth” during a heated exchange between Jordan and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“He was being bullied and there was an attempt to basically shut him down by Congressman Jordan,” Waters said, speaking about Fauci. “And so we only have limited time. We only have five minutes each. And he does not respect the chair, he does not respect the other members, he speaks over time, and he continues to carry a message that they get from the Republican caucus to come on to try and undermine us. And this message that he was using was all about the border, and trying to make it sound as if we were being irresponsible, and that somehow Dr. Fauci was responsible for businesses not opening up … and so I simply tried to intervene … to tell him what needed to be said.”
In that exchange between Jordan and Fauci, neither man spoke about the border, nor did Jordan blame Fauci for businesses being shut down. Jordan did repeatedly ask Fauci when pandemic-related restrictions will be lifted or what metrics are being used to determine when lifting restrictions would be appropriate.
Fauci said this would be when the level of infection in the U.S. “is no longer a threat,” but he did not specify what that level that would be.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.