On Tuesday, a Minneapolis jury found ex-cop Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the May 2020 death of George Floyd. Before the verdict was announced, Waters, a senior Democratic lawmaker, was blasted by Republicans, who accused her of inciting violence after she told protesters to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin wasn’t convicted.
Alan Dershowitz, the veteran celebrity lawyer who defended former President Donald Trump during his impeachment trials, and famously assisted the defence team in the 1995 OJ Simpson murder trial, has lashed out against California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, accusing her of using tactics from the Ku Klux Klan playbook to try to “intimidate” the Chauvin jury.
“The judge should have granted the motion for a mistrial based on the efforts of Congresswoman Waters to influence the jury. Her message was clearly intended to get to the jury. ‘If you acquit, or if you find the charge less than murder, we will burn down your buildings, we will burn down your businesses,’” Dershowitz said, speaking to conservative television network Newsmax TV.
“It’s borrowed precisely from the Ku Klux Klan of the 1930s and the 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,” Dershowitz alleged.
He went on to suggest that the judge couldn’t grant the mistrial on the basis of Waters’ comments, despite having grounds to do so, “because then he’d be responsible for the riots that would ensue.”
Dershowitz also said that the second and third degree murder charges against Chauvin seemed inappropriate. “If the facts are as the prosecution established them, then manslaughter seems appropriate. Causation was established beyond a reasonable doubt, I believe…and I do think that recklessness was shown,” he said. The lawyer argued that the judge should have “thrown out” the second degree murder charge, however, “because that requires felony murder, and you can’t have a felony murder when the assault is the underlying felony. Otherwise that eliminates the distinction between degrees of murder, because every murder involves assault.” As for third degree murder charge, “third degree murder requires that you pose a danger to others, meaning people other than the victim,” he argued.
Representative Waters was blasted by Republicans this week after 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, “stay on the streets” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin was not convicted. GOP leaders accused her of “inciting riots and violence” and demanding that she resign or be expelled from Congress.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives narrowly rejected a motion put forth by Republicans to censure Waters over her comments on Tuesday, with lawmakers voting 216-210 against the measure. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her fellow California congresswoman, saying she “absolutely” did not incite any violence with her comments, and was actually acting in line with tactics used by activists in the civil rights era.
Waters’ comments received further criticism after media dug up old footage of her press conference during the LA riots of 1992 which followed the not guilty judgement for the officers who viciously beat Rodney King, in which she expressed support for protesters, and justified some looting. The six days of riots in the West Coast city killed 63 people, injured 2,383 others, and caused over $1 billion in property damage.