In a new interview this week, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) suggested that using the word “rioting” to describe violent protests is offensive and racist, claiming that it is “negative language used far too often in a description of black people by folks who fundamentally don’t see black people the same way they see whites and others.”

Waters told The Cut about her “longtime fight over the language of insurrection and unrest versus rioting,” adding that the chaos we are currently living in has caused her to reflect on “what was going on back in the day, when I was confronting Daryl Gates, starting when the police shot Eula Love, which brought me in contact with the police commission and brought me to taking a look at what was going on with police community relations” years ago.

She went on to discuss her experience with Gates, the former Los Angeles police chief, and to talk about how these situations shaped her view of the “negative language” used today. “A lot of negative language gets used against black people, describing what whites often believe is true about us: that language includes ‘lazy,’ ‘criminal,’ and ‘rioting,’” Waters explained.

Not stopping there, Waters drew a comparison to the protests of 1992 and the ones that have played out in the past week since the death of George Floyd:

So when they talked about rioting in 1992, what I saw was an explosion of a hopelessness being played out. I’d been working with those children in public housing and understood what was going on with crack cocaine, that these communities had been dropped off of America’s agenda, and the only real interaction they had was with police: the use of a battering ram to break down a door, as Daryl Gates did, or stopping young black men on the street to have them spread their legs to be searched by police. So when this unfortunate situation happened, where we had a lot of these young people in the street, they were acting out in anger and frustration. It reminded me of much of which I saw this past weekend, with people who had been cooped up because of COVID-19, who have lost jobs, whose family members have been getting infected, and then you have this police officer put his knee on the neck of George Floyd and hold it for eight minutes-plus, while his life drained out on the sidewalk…that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So yes, I said ‘insurrection’: People acting out of frustration and hopelessness and understanding that they don’t have an establishment — political or otherwise — that really cared about their ability to work or have good health care. Yes, I choose to call it an insurrection.

While it’s true that there have been peaceful protests over Floyd’s death, it also can’t be denied that there have been many violent ones as well that have spread across the country like wildfire:

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Sorry, Maxine, but we’re going to call this exactly what it is: Riots.