It’s clear in context that Waters meant her comment to be menacing. The entire country is anxious about riots in case Derek Chauvin is acquitted, or possibly convicted of manslaughter instead of murder. The White House is preparing for the fallout and cities across the country are mobilizing police in advance. Officials in Minneapolis are so terrified about the streets suddenly becoming unsafe that they closed city schools as a precaution this week and shifted to distance learning to keep them safe at home.
Everyone understands what an acquittal might mean.
With that context in mind, watch Waters’s comments about protesters becoming “more confrontational.” She wasn’t proposing that in the abstract, as a general strategy for activism. She was talking specifically about what they should do if Chauvin is acquitted. In that scenario, she said, “we’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
What else could she have meant except the obvious?
Rep. Maxine Waters calls for rioters to "stay in the street" and "fight for justice" against police unless Chauvin is declared guilty for murder, not just manslaughter.
"We got to get more confrontational. We got to make sure they know we mean business." pic.twitter.com/YVdV8QHfUM
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) April 18, 2021
What else could she have meant except the obvious given her history of encouraging activists to physically intimidate their opponents? “[I]f you see anybody from [the Trump] Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” she famously said in 2018. Later, in an interview, she added, “The people are going to turn on them. They’re going to protest. They’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the President, ‘No, I can’t hang with you.’”
Harassment. “Confrontation.” Waters isn’t particularly subtle about this stuff, just oblique enough that she can claim afterward when she’s asked what she meant that of course she abhors violence.
Pelosi doesn’t care. Knowing full well that the GOP is going to make Dems justifiably eat sh*t over what Waters said, if only to remind voters that Trump isn’t the only American politician prone to inciting crazies on his side, she’s still not about to upbraid a well-known African-American congresswoman on a racial matter. Especially during a week when racial tensions are rising amid the Chauvin trial and the shooting of Daunte Wright.
Pelosi tells @AnnieGrayerCNN that Waters should NOT apologize for saying protestors should “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is acquitted. “No she doesn’t,” she said when asked if Waters should apologize. “Absolutely not,” she said when asked if her comments incited violence
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 19, 2021
“No, no, I don’t think she should apologize.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 19, 2021
The person whom Pelosi thought should apologize was GOP Rep. Lisa McClain, who inconveniently noted in a floor speech today that there had been a drive-by shooting targeting police and Guardsmen the same night as Waters’s comments. Did Waters inspire that? Probably not. But, said McClain, “If this were reversed, if this was said by a Republican, you know that the majority in this chamber would move to strip that representative of their committees and possibly to expel them from Congress.” Which is true.
Waters did a damage-control interview today with The Grio in which, of course, she feigned innocence:
“I am nonviolent,” she said. The congresswoman said attempts to characterize her words and suggest otherwise is nothing more than a political tactic by the GOP.
“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 … 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 added…
Further clarifying her comments on being “confrontational,” the California congresswoman said “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.”
Go watch the clip again if you need to. The “confrontation” she described was specifically about activists staying in the streets and showing “them” that “we” mean business. She wasn’t talking about legislation.
Jen Psaki was asked today about Waters’s comments too. I’ll leave you with that clip. She does note Biden’s belief that all protests should be peaceful, but as far as denouncing Waters, nope. Scot free. Trump’s not the only politician largely immune from criticism by politicians on his own side when he speaks irresponsibly, it seems.