Protesters are only a “mob” when people of color are involved


Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA). Source: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

America has a double standard for violence, giving White people the benefit of the doubt and labelling people of color “thugs,” “looters,” or even “terrorists.”

The latest smear came in the closing moments of the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson tried to overturn the trial based on comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters at a Black Lives Matter protest.

“Well we’ve got to stay on the street and we’ve got to get more active,” Waters had said. “We’ve got to get more confrontational, we’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

Nelson claimed that Water’s comments pressured the jury into handing down the guilty verdict.

Taken out of context, such language may seem threatening.

But Nelson’s claim implies that activists are a violent mob. It paints with a broad brush, reserved for people of color who speak up.

Waters’ comments did not orbit around the outcome of the trial. She was campaigning against anti-Blackness as a whole.

She was responding to a protestor, who said the fight often feels hopeless.

“As a Black man, despite all the efforts, I feel nothing changes,” the protestor said. “Nothing has happened despite the rhetoric. What needs to happen that’s different this year than all the years before?”

The larger context is necessary. Otherwise, opportunists can distort the meaning of Water’s words.

Waters didn’t call for a riot to get Chauvin convicted. She only reminded activists that they must persist.