Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond said Tuesday that Rep. Maxine Waters merely exercised her constitutional rights when she voiced her sentiments at a Los Angeles rally on the Trump administration’s separation of immigrant children from their parents.
Waters said during Saturday’s rally that she lacked sympathy for people in Trump’s administration and suggested that citizens should publicly protest members of the administration until they stopped the separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Let’s make sure we show up, wherever we have to show up, and 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,” the California Democrat told the crowd. “And you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
Her comments angered Trump backers already smarting from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ claim that she was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant Friday because of her affiliation with the administration, but Richmond defended Waters as a champion for justice.
“[I]t should not be a surprise to anyone who knows her that she has chosen to stand up and speak out against something as unjust as separating young immigrant children from their parents, and [that she] is encouraging others to do the same,” he said in an issued statement. “This is who she is, and this is who she will always be, and our country is better because of it.
“In exercising her constitutional right to freedom of speech at a recent rally, Congresswoman Waters did not, as she has made clear, encourage violence, like President Trump has been doing since the election,” Richmond (D-La.) said. “She, instead, encouraged Americans to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly by letting President Trump and members of his administration know that separating young immigrant children from their parents is not who we are as a country.
“We cannot forget that President Trump, as a candidate, encouraged his supporters to beat up his detractors at rallies, and, as president, morally equated white supremacists with anti-racist activists and encouraged police officers to beat up suspects,” he said, adding that Trump almost daily says something that makes the country more dangerous for people who resemble Waters and other minorities.
“Where is the national conversation on civility in these moments?” Richmond asked. “Does the administration have a plan to reunite the 2,300 immigrant children who have been separated from their parents? If so, where is it and when will it be implemented? These are the questions we should be asking.
“But, for some reason, too many folks find it easier to question the motives of the congresswoman who is protesting the unjust policy, instead of the president and administration officials who are implementing it,” he said.