House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) doesn’t have to apologize for comments calling on protesters to “get more confrontational” over the weekend should an acquittal be handed down for a former Minneapolis police officer over the death of George Floyd, and sought to defend her colleague.
In response to a reporter’s question on whether Waters should apologize for the remarks, Pelosi said no. “Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement,” she said.
“I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family. They’ve handled this with great dignity and no ambiguity or … misinterpretation by the other side. No, I don’t think she should apologize.”
When pressed further on whether Waters’s comment could incite violence, Pelosi replied, “No, absolutely not.”
Pelosi’s attempt to downplay criticism of Waters’s comments comes after Republicans called the remarks made at a protest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 17 “dangerous.”
Waters said she was “going to fight with all of the people who stand for justice” and persuaded protesters to “stay on the street,” “get more active,” and “get more confrontational,” if former officer Derek Chauvin wasn’t found guilty of murder.
“We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business,” Waters said.
She also said the former police officer should be found guilty of murder, a comment that elicited a strong rebuke from the judge presiding over Chauvin’s trial. The judge added that Waters’s comments could be grounds for appealing the verdict of the trial.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” he said.
The White House has sought to distance itself from Waters, with press secretary Jen Psaki refusing to comment directly on the congresswoman’s actions. Instead, Psaki spoke generally about protests, saying that it’s “the most American thing” to demonstrate against injustice.
“[President Biden] has been very clear that he recognizes the issue of police violence against people of color, communities of color, as one of great anguish, and it’s exhausting and quite emotional at times,” Psaki said.
“His view is also that exercising First Amendment rights and protesting injustice is the most American thing that anyone can do.
“But as he also always says, protests must be peaceful. That’s what he continues to call for and what he continues to believe is the right way to approach responding.”
Meanwhile, Republicans have raised concerns about Waters’s comments, which come against a backdrop of violent rioting and looting over the summer following Floyd’s death.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) characterized Waters’s remarks as “dangerous rhetoric” and announced on April 19 that he would introduce a resolution to censure the California Democrat after Pelosi refused to act.
“This weekend in Minnesota, Maxine Waters broke the law by violating curfew and then incited violence. Speaker Pelosi is ignoring Waters’s behavior—that’s why I am introducing a resolution to censure Rep. Waters for these dangerous comments,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter.
Similarly, Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) accused Waters of “openly calling for violence in Minnesota” and argued that if Waters was a Republican lawmaker, the Democratic-controlled chamber would be voting to expel her from committees and possibly Congress.
“The words ‘get more confrontational’—what do those words mean? Are those not the words that someone would use if they wanted to incite more violence or insurrection?” McClain asked.
“If the majority cares about this institution, if the majority cares about our nation, they need to get their own house in order and tamp down on the vile rhetoric.”
Pelosi told reporters that she believes McClain should apologize for her comments on the floor; McClain said she wouldn’t.
Waters’s office didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment by press time.
Waters has since dismissed the Republican accusations, telling news site theGrio that she’s a “nonviolent” person. She claims that the calls for her expulsion are part of Republican rhetoric to denounce Democrats.
“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 said.
The congresswoman also argued that her comments were related to “confronting the justice system” and “policing that’s going on.”
Responding to the judge’s comments on April 19, Waters told a CNN reporter that “the judge says my words don’t matter,” and she falsely claimed that the judge didn’t say her comments may be grounds for appeal.