Nearly 200 black female leaders and allies outside of Congress have signed a letter calling on top congressional Democrats to defend Rep. Maxine Waters after she was criticized by members of her own party for urging people to protest President Donald Trump’s Cabinet members in public spaces.
The group includes a mix of local elected officials, religious leaders, academics, activists and political consultants – including some men – who felt Waters was unfairly treated and want Democratic leaders in Congress to apologize.
“We write to share our 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 states.
The letter, which was earlier reported by Politico, was sent to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California – both of whom responded last week to Waters’ controversial comments. It was also sent to other Democratic leaders, including Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who did offer a public defense of Waters last week.
Last week, Pelosi tweeted a link to a CNN article on Waters’ comments and added that “Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable”
For his part, Schumer took to the Senate floor, saying, “I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don’t agree with you.”
“If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action and vote them out of office,” he added. “But no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American.”
Trump blasted Waters in multiple speeches and tweets last week and accused her of calling for “harm” to his supporters, which she fiercely denied.
“I believe in peaceful, very peaceful protests,” she told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. “I have not called for the harm of anybody. This President has lied again when he’s saying that I’ve called for harm.”
CNN has reached out to Schumer’s and Waters’ offices for comment.
After few colleagues on Capitol Hill publicly defended or agreed with Waters’ remarks, the group of leaders and supporters of Waters organized the letter to send to Democratic leadership.
“Disparaging or failing to support Congresswoman Waters is an affront to her and Black women across the country and telegraphs a message that the Democratic Party can ill afford: that it does not respect Black women’s leadership and political power and discounts the impact of Black women and millennial voters,” the letter says.
The group called on Pelosi and Schumer to “step up and publicly support” Waters as well as apologize “for your public comments insinuating she is ‘uncivil’ and ‘unAmerican.’ “
Responding to the letter, Pelosi said in a statement, “Congresswoman Maxine Waters is a valued leader whose passionate call for family reunification should be heard without any threats to her safety.”
“Donald Trump has sullied the bully pulpit with reckless disregard for the safety of others,” she continued. “He should stop his attacks on Congresswoman Waters and all Members of Congress, the free press, and all Americans who have the right and the responsibility to speak their minds.”