Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) on Saturday publicly addressed the cancellation of her speaking engagements in Texas and Alabama after receiving death threats, including one of lynching, for speaking out against Trump’s immigration policies that have resulted in the separation of families at the border.
“We didn't have all of our security in order and organized for those two trips, but we've got it together now,” she said on L.A. radio station KPFK-FM (90.7) during a town hall program hosted by Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson. “We're going on with our schedule, and we're going to keep talking about this president and his policies, and we're going to keep fighting for these children and their parents and these families.”
“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they are not welcome anymore, anywhere,” Waters had said at the time. “Mr. President, we will see you every day, every hour of the day, everywhere that we are. We're going to let you know you cannot get away with this.”
President Trump quickly tried to use the protests to portray his administration as a victim, falsely claiming on Twitter that Waters had advocated for his supporters to be harmed.
“Nowhere in this statement do you hear me talk about violence. I'm talking about a discussion,” Waters said Saturday on Hutchinson’s show. “This business about me heckling, harassing, talking about violence is all made up by the opposite side. It's made up by right-wing conservatives, it's made up by Republicans in Congress, and they have scared the Democrats who are trying to somehow navigate on the question of civility.
“Protest is civility. It is the way by which the Constitution guarantees us our 1st Amendment rights. And when people protest, they are protesting because they have a voice. We are guaranteed freedom of speech.”
The recent public shaming of Trump administration officials in Washington, D.C.-area restaurants has triggered an internal debate among Democrats over how far they should go in confronting the president and his policies. Several Democrats have warned that such actions could backfire by eliciting sympathy for Trump officials, rallying Republicans to the polls in midterms or leading to similar protests against liberals by Trump supporters.
Later that morning, Waters stepped up on stage before the tens of thousands gathered in front of City Hall to protest Trump’s immigration policies. Demonstrators chanted her name to pounding drumbeats and waved signs that declared America as a “nation of immigrants” and that the country should “Build Bridges not Walls.”
“Donald Trump, you think you can get away with everything, but you have gone too far when you're trying to break up families in the way that you do,” she said. “I don't care whether you're a Democrat or Republican, I don't care what nationality you are, I don't care what ethnic group you are, we all love the children.... This country belongs to all of us."
“We have no fear, you will not intimidate us,” she said, as the cheering intensified. “We're coming right at you, and we're saying to you: The constitution of the United States of America gives us the right to protest — and protest we will.”