Last week, Congresswoman Maxine Waters announced at a “Families Belong Together” (immigration) rally that she had been harassed and targeted after she publicly called for protesters to confront Trump administration officials over its zero tolerance immigration policy. As a response President Trump took to Twitter, inaccurately claiming that Waters called for her protesters to harm his supporters.
The tweet read, “Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”
Congresswoman Waters insisted that she was not calling for harm but in fact peaceful protests.
“As the President has continued to lie and falsely claim that I encouraged people to assault his supporters, while also offering a veiled threat that I should ‘be careful’, even more individuals are leaving (threatening) messages and sending hostile mail to my office,” said Waters in a statement.
Since receiving the death threats, Waters has had to cancel quite a few appearances in places like Alabama and Texas due to safety reasons. Although, she has momentarily stepped out of the spotlight, her supporters are stepping in and standing up.
On Monday, July 2, around 30 local religious leaders and community supporters met at the Congresswoman’s Los Angeles office on 10124 S. Broadway for a press conference. The event organized and led by Shane B. Scott, senior pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church, was a response to the “harsh rhetoric death threats” she had received.
“This administration has created an atmosphere of divisiveness to satisfy the base and not to represent all people in these yet to be United States of America,” said Scott. “Immigrant children have been separated from their families at the borders and Trumps’ travel ban has been rooted in anti-Muslim prejudices which discriminate against religious freedoms and law makers ignore implementing reasonable gun laws to stop mass shootings in our most sacred public places. This is not who America is supposed to be.”
Pastor Scott continued his opening remarks by calling Congresswoman Waters “courageous” for raising her voice.
“She is leading the fight in the democratic party to maintain the moral fiber of this country,” he said. “She is a true patriot and she should be celebrated as such. She has been an exemplary public servant for all of the people and any attempts to disrespect, discredit, or assassinate her character are unwelcomed and unwarranted.”
In his closing remarks, Scott referenced Trumps immigration policy and border control saying that children should not be taken from the arms of their parents and placed in detention camps and that children should not be “treated like inmates.”
“We support the demonstrations for ‘Families Belong Together’ in response to the Trump administrations zero tolerance immigration policy. Separating migrant families is unacceptable! For this reason, Congresswoman Waters is a vocal opponent of Trump and his discriminatory policies against people of color and anyone non-White.”
Other religious leaders in attendance were Pastor LA Kessee, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California, senior pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church of West Los Angeles; Rev. Francine Brookins Esq., pastor of Bethel A.M.E Church in Fontana, California; Rev. Peter Larman; Rev. John E. Cager III, senior pastor of Ward A.M.E Church and president of the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders; Kelvin Sauls, former pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church joined by Bishop Warner H. Brown, interim pastor of Holman United Methodist Chuch; Bishop Noel Jones from the City of Refuge.
“On behalf of the Baptist Ministers of Los Angeles and Southern California, I stand with Pastor Scott and we as Baptist ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, support Congresswoman Maxine Waters and we are calling for her protection from threats of bodily harm, she should be protected and she should be protected not at her own expense but by the governments that she serves,” said Kessee.
Pastor Brookins was next to address the crowd of Maxine Waters supporters and media.
“[I am here today] to demand the reunification of families who were cruelly and unnecessarily separated from their parents by the Trump administration racist, zero-tolerance policy,” she said. “The policy is reminiscent of days of slavery when it was legal for families to be ripped apart and sold and for others to profit on Black and Brown bodies. The cries of the immigrant parents sound much like the cries of parents who daily have their children gunned down by police on our city streets. We call for an end to the cruel and unusual punishment of separating children from their parents.”
Brookins continues her speech by stating that the people need the voice of Congresswoman Waters due to the current political climate and “any effort to silence her and the calls to violence against her are unconstitutional, and ungodly, and will not be tolerated.”
Next in line to speak at the podium was Cager.
“I am proud to stand here and support a four decade solider in the fight for justice. The last derivative of a racist attack is the attack to silence those who would speak truth to power. We as people of color, have long used the tool of nonviolent engagement to advance our causes. The fact that those who have publicly advocated for protesters to be beaten and shot are the epitome of hypocrisy when they would come after Congresswoman Maxine Waters for exercising her free expression. If Black and Brown people did not speak up we would still be chopping cotton in Mississippi and picking grapes for 25 cents an hour. They tried to sit down Martin Luther King Jr., but he would not sit down and he would not shut up. They tried to sit down Cesar Chavez, but he would not sit down and he would not shut up. They are trying to sit down Maxine Waters, but all declare that Maxine don’t sit down and don’t shut up!”
Pastor Scott concluded the press conference by thanking everyone who came out in support of Congresswoman Waters and mentioned that community forums on the matter will be held at a later date where the broader community can participate.