The White House on Monday appeared to distance itself from House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters for telling racial justice protesters to “get more confrontational” if Derek Chauvin is acquitted in George Floyd’s murder trial.
President Biden believes “protests must be peaceful,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the comments by Waters (D-Calif.).
“Well I can speak to the president’s view, he has been very clear that he recognizes the issue of police violence against people of color, communities of color is one of great anguish and it’s exhausting and quite emotional at times,” Psaki began.
“His view is also that exercising First Amendment rights and protesting injustice is the most American thing that anyone can do,” she continued. “But as he also always says, protests must be peaceful. That’s what he continues to call for and when he continues to believe is the right way to approach responding.”
On Sunday, Waters joined hundreds of protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minn., demonstrating against the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man shot by a white police officer who thought she was pulling out her Taser.
The suspect, former officer Kim Potter, has since been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
The city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota were already on edge in the wake of the Chauvin trial.
The California lawmaker told the crowd at what was the seventh night of demonstrations after Wright’s killing, “We’ve got to stay in the streets, and we’ve got to demand justice.”
“We’re looking for a guilty verdict,” she continued, referring to Chauvin. “And 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 not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice.”
Waters went on to say that she was “hopeful” that Chauvin would be convicted, “and if we don’t [get the verdict], we cannot go away.”
Asked if that meant a manslaughter conviction, but a murder acquittal, would be adequate, Waters said no.
“Oh no, not manslaughter, no no,” she remarked. “This is guilty for murder. I don’t know if it was in the first degree, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s first-degree murder.”
As for what the protesters should do if they don’t get the verdict they want, Waters said, “We 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 California lawmaker went on to urge demonstrators to ignore police-enforced curfews as a form of protest, saying, “I don’t think anything about curfew. Curfew means ‘I want you all to stop talking. I want you to stop meeting. I want you to stop gathering.’ I don’t agree with that.”
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