Maxine Waters, the Democratic congresswoman from California facing growing pressure over her comments urging Black Lives Matter protesters to “get more confrontational” if Derek Chauvin is not convicted for “murder,” also partly defended the 1992 riots which swept across Los Angeles and killed 63 people in the aftermath of the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King, unearthed footage reveals.
“There are scores of injuries, and still anger and frustration, and people who plan on staying on the streets, and expressing their outrage and anger in any way they deem necessary. There are those who would like for me and others and all of us to tell people to go inside, to be peaceful, that they have to accept the verdict. I accept the responsibility of asking people not to endanger their lives. I am not asking people not to be angry,” Waters said in a C-Span video dated 30 April, 1992, day two of the six days of riots which rocked the West Coast city that year.
“I am angry and I have a right to that anger. And the people out there have a right to that anger. We don’t want anybody killed. None of us believe in violence. But there are some angry people in America,” Waters added.
She went on to call violent LA rioters’ motivations “somewhat understandable, if not acceptable,” and to defend some looting as a matter of urgency.
“There were mothers who took this as an opportunity to take some milk, to take some bread, to take some shoes. Maybe they shouldn’t have done it, but the atmosphere was such that they did it. They are not crooks,” she said in a separate interview with local media at the time.
“One lady said her children didn’t have any shoes. She just saw those shoes there, a chance for all of her children to have new shoes. Goddamn it! It was such a tear-jerker. I might have gone in and taken them for her myself,” Waters said.
Waters’ decades-old comments carry new meaning amid the firestorm of controversy she has faced over her remarks Saturday urging protesters in Brooklyn Center – the city where 20-year-old African American Daunte Wright was gunned down by a white police officer last week, to ignore curfew, to “stay on the streets” and “get more confrontational” if Derek Chauvin, the former officer accused of killing George Floyd, is not convicted.
Democratic House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Waters on Monday, saying the congresswoman “absolutely” did not incite any violence, and drawing parallels between Waters’ call for confrontation and the civil rights movement.
Judge Peter Cahill, the judge presiding over the Chauvin trial, blasted Waters and other officials for their incessant commenting on the trial, saying he “wished” officials would “stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that’s disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” and calling their failure to do so “abhorrent.” Waters’ remarks, he said, could serve as potential grounds for an appeal by Chauvin’s defence if he is convicted.