Rep. Maxine Waters in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, April 17th.
Dominick Sokotoff / Zuma Press
Well, this is certainly a mess, and let’s hope it doesn’t become tragic. Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, may have poisoned the Derek Chauvin Trial, which is now complete in Minneapolis.
That is the view expressed by Hennepin District Judge Peter Cahill on Monday, who leads the prosecution of Mr Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd last May. Defense attorney Eric Nelson called on Judge Cahill to declare a mistrial after Ms. Waters made fire notes in front of a crowd of protesters at the Brooklyn Center, near Minneapolis, over the weekend.
Hennepin District Judge Peter Cahill during the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis on April 19.
Pool / Reuters
Judge Cahill denied the request but said, “I give you that Congressman Waters may have given you something on appeal that could result in this entire process being overturned.”
The judge added, “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in ways that do not respect the rule of law, the judiciary or our function.” He’s right about his request, and he might be right about an appeal, depending on how the jury decides the case.
Mrs. Waters tried to upset the crowd to protest an acquittal. “I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,” she said. “And if we don’t, we can’t go away. We have to stay on the road. . . . We are becoming more active, we have to become more confrontational. “
It also sounds like an attempt to sway the jury by suggesting that acquittal would lead to more street protests and possibly violence. The commentaries are particularly powerful and dangerous in a city that suffered widespread looting, violence and destruction after Floyd’s death in political custody.
An attempt on Monday was made to sell Congressmen’s comments as referring only to the confrontation “in the style of the civil rights movement.” But anyone who remembers last year’s riots and understands the fear in Minneapolis today as a judgment near the trial knows that this is insincere. Ms. Waters has deliberately encouraged people in a moment of high tension to take to the streets and become “confrontational” when the judgment is not what they like.
The statements by Ms. Waters are cause for criticism from the House. And if her words become the basis for a conviction appeal, she will be responsible for it when Mr. Chauvin becomes free.
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