Tail. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) Traveled to Minnesota this weekend, urging protesters to “stay on the streets” and even become “more confronted” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted of the murder of George Floyd resident this week.
Waters arrived at the Brooklyn Center in Minn on Saturday to join a demonstration over a police shooting at Daunte Wright last week. While stopping traffic, a police officer shot a 20-year-old man with a rifle after he intended to use a Taser. The incident, which happened just 10 kilometers from the courthouse where Chauvin is being tried for Floyd’s murder, sparked nightly demonstrations.
In a video shared on social media, a California congresswoman is heard urging protesters to ignore curfew.
Social media response
On Sunday, the hashtags #MaxineWaters were in trend along with #BrooklynCenter and #DaunteWright to gather support for the justice of Daunte Wright and George Floyd. However, many critics of the Liberal MP have challenged her call for her to become “more confrontational,” which she says called for protesters to commit violent acts.
“Why is Maxine Waters traveling to another state and trying to incite a rebellion? What benefit can this come from?” thought Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado (@laurenboebert).
Many reiterated the view that no MP should make such comments, and there were calls for an investigation that could lead to Rep. Waters is deprived of congressional committee duties.
Attorney Will Chamberlain, a senior adviser in the Internet Accountability and Article 3 project, expressed his concern on social media and called for such action, “Maxine Waters must be – at the very least – deprived of all board duties.”
“Although the nation has witnessed night riots and violence against police, Maxine Waters prejudges the ongoing trial and calls on the crowd to‘ clash more ’if they don’t like the verdict,” wrote conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza).
By Sunday afternoon, the hashtag #ImpeachMaxineWaters had also begun to evolve, and the usual refrain was that she was actually calling for incitement to violence or rebellion. Hundreds of tweets have expressed concern that calls from Waters MPs could lead to the destruction of property and some even put it in serious danger.
There are already reports that at least two National Guard units were injured after gunmen opened fire on their vehicles in Minneapolis. The attack reportedly followed hours after Waters called on her to be more confrontational.
That would certainly be an issue for the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech but gloriously does not protect the right to falsely shout “fire” in a crowded theater. However, the First Amendment concerns the government, not a private entity such as Twitter. But using the platform could be a problem in other ways.
Waters ’calls for action have been met so strongly that they show the platform’s power to draw attention to the problem – even one you may disagree with.
“Just like any other form of mass communication, social media has the power to amplify the message and allow it to spread quickly,” explained futurist and brand strategist Scott Steinberg. “And it’s happening on a larger scale than we’ve ever seen before.”
One factor is that a call made on a radio or TV is only present if you are watching or the statement is repeated. In the case of social media, when something starts to trend, it continues to take on a life of its own.
Therefore, while many on the right may have condemned Waters ’words, it also affected the further sharing of the message – which could also lead to violence. It could also be argued that Waters did not indeed call for violence, only to have people express anger at recent incidents involving Minnesota police.
Some experts might have a different view.
“Anything that incites people to violence, even in a roundabout way, would not be welcome in the courts,” Steinberg added. “As we have seen, there is a very thin line between free speech and criminal behavior, but it is not clear that Waters has actually crossed that line.”
Probably social media could be used to stir the pot and initiate violent behavior simply because they can reach so many people so quickly.
“We can and should expect more from this,” Steinberg warned. “The old rules of engagement are thrown out the window because social media is used to gather. Human nature is what it is – the loudest voices are what people assume is the most authoritative, and social media can amplify voices like nothing before. In an insecure situation, people gravitate to the loudest votes even if the message is incorrect or valid. “