BROOKLYN CENTER, MINNESOTA – APRIL 17: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) joins protesters in a protest … [+]
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) Traveled to Minnesota this weekend urging protesters to “stay on the streets” and even become “more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted Resident George Floyd killed this week.
Waters arrived in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Saturday to attend demonstrations over the past week’s police shooting of Daunte Wright. During a traffic obstruction, an officer shot the 20-year-old with a pistol after attempting to use a taser. The incident, which occurred just 10 miles from the courthouse, in which Chauvin is tried for the murder of Floyd, sparked nightly demonstrations.
In a video shared on social media, the California Congresswoman was heard urging protesters to ignore a curfew.
Social media response
On Sunday, the hashtags #MaxineWaters along with #BrooklynCenter and #DaunteWright tended to rally support for justice for Daunte Wright and George Floyd. However, many critics of the liberal lawmaker have questioned her demands for a more “confrontational” stance, which she said encouraged protesters to commit acts of violence.
“Why is Maxine Waters traveling to another state to cause a riot? What can it do?” thought Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado (@laurenboebert).
Many agreed that no lawmaker should make such comments, and there have been calls for an investigation into which could result in Rep. Waters being stripped of her duties on the Congressional Committee.
Attorney Will Chamberlain, senior attorney for the Internet Accountability Project and Article 3 Project, voiced his concern on social media and called for such action: “Maxine Waters must at least be deprived of all of her committee duties.”
“As the nation experiences nightly riot and violence against the police, Maxine Waters anticipates an ongoing trial and urges a crowd to become ‘more confrontational’ if they don’t pass judgment,” wrote conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza (@ DineshDSouza)).
Incitement to rebellion?
The hashtag #ImpeachMaxineWaters also began to develop on Sunday afternoon, and a common refrain was that it actually called for incitement to violence or riot. Hundreds of tweets expressed concern that Rep. Waters’ calls could lead to property destruction and even put some in serious danger.
At least two National Guard troops were previously reported injured after armed men opened fire on their vehicles in Minneapolis. That attack reportedly came just hours after Waters called for more confrontation.
It would certainly be an issue for the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech but is known not to protect the right to mistakenly shout “fire” in a crowded theater. However, the first change is about the government, not a private body like Twitter. However, using the platform could also be problematic in other ways.
Waters’ calls to action have been taken so vigorously that they demonstrate the platform’s ability to draw attention to an issue – even an issue that you may not agree to.
“As with any other form of mass communication, social media can reinforce a message and enable it to be spread quickly,” said futurist and brand strategist Scott Steinberg. “And that is happening to a greater extent than ever before.”
One factor is that a call on the radio or television is only present when you are watching or when the statement is repeated. When something starts to develop on social media, it takes on a life of its own.
While many on the right may have condemned Waters’ words, it also helped spread the message – which could also lead to violence. It could also be argued that Waters really did not call for violence just for people to express their outrage over the recent incidents with the Minnesota police force.
Some experts may have a different view.
“Anything that incites people to violence in a roundabout way would not be welcomed by the courts,” added Steinberg. “As we’ve seen, there is a very fine line between freedom of speech and criminal behavior, but it’s not clear that Waters actually crossed that line.”
Stir the pot
It’s likely that social media could be used to stir the pot and stir up violent behavior simply because it can reach so many so quickly.
“We can and should expect more of it,” warned Steinberg. “The old rules of engagement are out of the window as social media is used for collective calling. It is human nature for what it is – the loudest voices are what people think are most authoritative, and social media can do the voices amplify like nothing before. In an uncertain situation, people attract the loudest voices, even if the message is incorrect or valid. “