Good old “Auntie Maxine,” as California Rep. Maxine Waters apparently likes to be called, has put in peril a judicial process meant to show Americans that we can trust the jury system when it comes to police officers accused of serious crimes. Prior to the now-known Derek Chauvin verdict—guilty on all three counts, including second-degree murder—many observers watched as Ms. Waters attempted to intimidate that jury just before they received the case.
The concern not even 24 hours ago was whether the defendant would be afforded due process after a series of efforts to intimidate people involved with the trial, including Ms. Waters’ remarks.
Those who carefully watched the trial believed there would be a guilty verdict. The evidence and testimony made it apparent the prosecution was pursuing accountability and justice. The video itself placed the humanity of George Floyd in front of the nation, as well as the apparent cruelty of Mr. Chauvin.
But Ms. Waters, with her incitement of protesters just prior to the jury receiving the case, may have put justice in this matter at risk. She has a history of encouraging harassment and social organizing meant to intimidate those with whom she disagrees politically. But now she is elevating herself to the status of a runaway train, crashing in the middle of a Minneapolis suburb without care as to the damage inflicted.
Just as the now-concluded trial of Mr. Chauvin was wrapping up, Ms. Waters said this to a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn Center, Missouri, a suburb already experiencing violence: that rioters should “stay in the street” unless Mr. Chauvin is declared guilty for murder. “We got to get more confrontational. We got to make sure they know we mean business,” she emphasized.
An even more disturbing aspect of her incitement is that it clearly was an effort to intimidate the jury, which even the judge overseeing the case made clear may provide a court of appeal the reasoning with which to overturn the result of the trial.
Understandably, Mr. Chauvin’s defense attorney asked for a mistrial at the time based on the prejudicial and incendiary nature of Ms. Waters unhinged screed. While that request was denied, Judge Peter Cahill did not retreat from making his opinion known about the impact of this attempted interference:
“I’m aware of the media reports. I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction and talking about being confrontational… This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function. I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect the co-equal branch of government. Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent…”
In comments to the defense attorney Judge Cahill added, “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
Alan Dershowitz, the civil rights attorney, knows very well the tactics of terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and their efforts to intimidate the justice system from issuing actual justice. Breitbart reported on his remarks about Ms. Waters’ rhetoric and its intention:
“This was an attempt to intimidate the jury. It’s borrowed precisely from the Ku Klux Klan of the 1930s and 1920s when the Klan would march outside of courthouses and threaten all kinds of reprisals if the jury ever dared convict a white person or acquit a black person,” said Mr. Dershowitz. “And so, efforts to intimidate a jury should result in a mistrial with the judge, of course, wouldn’t grant a mistrial because then he’d be responsible for the riots that would ensue, even though it was Waters who was responsible.” Mr. Dershowitz concluded by saying he believed there would be a conviction, and then headed to the Court of Appeals.
The New York Post was also not coy with its response with an editorial titled, “Impeach and Remove Maxine Waters.” They note, “Maxine Waters is trying to create a Civil War, and her irresponsible rhetoric is inciting violence. House speaker Nancy Pelosi should strip her of her committee assignments and move for a vote to remove Waters from office.”
Americans were horrified and appalled when we saw the George Floyd video. We came together and condemned that action by Mr. Chauvin and the other officers involved. Now, the just verdict could be upended by a court of appeal in part because of a woman who does not seem to care that incitement and intimidation have consequences. One thing is clear—Maxine Waters’ history of wanting more “confrontation” to accommodate her political agenda continues to do damage to this country and to the rule of law.
Tammy Bruce, president of Independent Women’s Voice, author and Fox News contributor, is a radio talk-show host.