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Al Sharpton and other black leaders rip Schumer, Pelosi for denouncing Maxine Waters' comments

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), alongside House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), speaks with reporters Tuesday outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Nearly 200 “Black Women Leaders and Allies” signed a letter criticizing the two Democratic leaders for denouncing calls to harass Trump administration members by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

The Rev. Al Sharpton, former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile, and a group of nearly 200 “Black Women Leaders and Allies” wrote a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), slamming them for denouncing comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

Waters had encouraged her supporters to harass members of President Donald Trump's administration whenever they saw them.

What did Maxine Waters say?

During a June 23 rally, Waters called for the harassment of Trump officials. Her comments were in response to the owner of a restaurant asking White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave because of the Trump administration’s political positions. Waters encouraged her supporters to take this attitude much further and harass administration officials at every store and gas station.

We want it done now. We’re going to insist on it. If you think we’re rallying now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Already you have members of your Cabinet that are being booed out of restaurants. We have protesters taking up at their house who are saying, "No peace, no sleep. No peace, no sleep."

And guess what? We’re going to win this battle, because while you try and quote the Bible, Jeff Sessions and others, you really don’t know the Bible. God is on our side, on the side of the children, on the side of what’s right, on the side of what’s honorable, on the side of understanding — that if we can’t protect the children, we can’t protect anybody.

And so, let’s stay the course. Let’s make sure we show up, wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore,  anywhere.

What did Schumer and Pelosi say?

Schumer and Pelosi considered Waters’ words to be inflammatory enough that they spoke out against them at a time when they are both working to unify the Democratic Party and gain back the ground that they lost in 2016.

Not mentioning Waters by name, Schumer called out the harassment on the Senate floor on July 25.

“I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don't agree with you,” he said, adding that Americans should peacefully protest and vote politicians with whom they disagreed out of office. But, he said, “no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That's not right, that's not American.”

Pelosi made a similar statement, saying that what Waters had said was “unacceptable.”

Waters responded, saying that leadership, like Chuck Schumer's, will do anything that they think is necessary to protect their leadership.

What did the letter say?

In the letter, Sharpton, Brazile, and the others expressed their “full support” for Waters. They also spoke of their “profound indignation and deep disappointment over your recent failure to protect Congresswoman Waters from unwarranted attacks from the Trump Administration and others in the GOP.” The letter continued:

That failure was further compounded by your decision to unfairly deride her as being “uncivil” and “un-American.” In doing so, we believe this mischaracterizes her call to action for peaceful democratic assembly and the exercise of her constitutional rights to free speech in support of defenseless immigrant children and their families.

The signers went on to further sing the praises of Waters:

For Black women, who are the most loyal base of the Democratic Party and the Progressive Movement, Congresswoman Waters is our shero. At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, Maxine Waters stands bold and unafraid, serving as a beacon of light and hope, her singular voice, speaking powerfully and urging the nation to the moral high ground of justice. She continues the phenomenal legacy of leadership of Black women who paved the way for all women to break glass ceilings including Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Yvonne Braithwaite and Cardiss Collins; and civil rights icons---Dr. Dorothy I. Height, Dr. C. Delores Tucker, Reverend Willie Barrow, Mrs. Evelyn Lowery and many more.
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