Rep. Maxine Waters calls for federal probe into alleged ‘Executioners’ gang in Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department

maxine waters
House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, takes her mask off to speak during a signing ceremony for the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, H.R. 266, after it passed the House on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Washington.

  • Rep. Maxine Waters is asking for a federal probe into the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
  • Waters called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the alleged “Executioners” gang.
  • The group was accused of celebrating police shootings by a whistleblower within the station.
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Rep. Maxine Waters on Tuesday called for Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kirsten Clarke to conduct a federal probe into the alleged “Executioners” gang within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

According to the Los Angeles Times and whistleblower Deputy Austreberto “Art” Gonzalez, the “Executioners” are a group within the Compton station accused of having matching, offensive tattoos and celebrating police shootings.

A spokesperson for the LASD claimed the letter was made up of “unproven allegations which she is portraying as facts.”

The alleged groups were first reported on by the Los Angeles Times in 2018, after multiple deputies within the Compton station testified to having identifying tattoos, including one who had a tattoo of a skull with a rifle and military helmet, engulfed in flames.

“I ask that the DOJ take two immediate actions: launch an independent investigation into the existence of the ‘Executioners,’ both at the LASD Compton station and within the greater LASD community, and launch a pattern or practice investigation into the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for potential civil rights and constitutional violations,” Waters wrote in the letter.

Members of the alleged “Executioners” were also involved in the police killing of 18-year-old Andres Guardado, according to the testimony of a whistleblower deputy at the Compton station. Guardado was shot in the back five times by LASD deputies in an alleyway following a foot chase. The shooting was ruled a homicide by a Los Angeles County inquest.

“The gang allegedly sets illegal arrest quotas, threatens and harasses fellow deputies, and holds parties after shootings, called ‘998 parties,’ which are in part a celebration that a new deputy will be inked by the gang,” said Rep. Waters, citing Gonzalez’s whistleblower testimony.

“The killing of Andres Guardado is not the only example of the LASD’s excessive and brutal tactics in the Los Angeles community. On August 31, 2020, LASD deputies fatally shot Dijon Kizzee in South Los Angeles,” Rep. Waters added.

The LASD spokesperson pushed back on the assertion: “Additionally, the uses of deadly force Congresswoman Waters cites have been thoroughly investigated and turned over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney, Justice System Integrity Division for further investigation and review, along with monitoring by The California Office of the Attorney General and The Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Rep. Waters’ letter also called for a broader focus on the “pattern of police associating with militant groups nationwide.”

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Alan Dershowitz accused Maxine Waters of using ‘KKK tactics’ to intimidate the jury in the Chauvin murder trial

Alan Dershowitz outside Capitol
Alan Dershowitz, who was a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team during the first impeachment trial, has weighed in on Rep. Maxine Waters’ comments in Minneapolis.

  • Lawyer Alan Dershowitz accused Waters of intimidating the jury with tactics from the “KKK playbook.”
  • He said Waters had intended to “get to the jury” with threats if they acquitted Chauvin.
  • Dershowitz added that Judge Peter Cahill should have granted Chauvin a mistrial.
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Lawyer Alan Dershowitz has accused Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of using tactics from the Ku Klux Klan “playbook” to “intimidate the jury” in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

In a televised interview with Newsmax, Dershowitz likened Waters’ actions to that of the KKK in the “1920s and 1930s.”

“The Klan would march outside of courthouses and threaten all kinds of reprisals if the jury ever dared convict a white person or acquit a black person,” he said.

He was referring to comments that Waters made on Saturday to people protesting the police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright at a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, an incident that occurred just 10 miles from where Chauvin’s high-profile murder trial was taking place.

According to a video posted on Twitter, Waters said she and the crowd were “looking for a guilty verdict” for Chauvin.

“We’ve got to stay in the streets, and we’ve got to demand justice,” Waters said. “I am hopeful that we will get a verdict that says, ‘guilty, guilty, guilty,’ and if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to get more confrontational.”

Dershowitz said, “First of all, the judge should have granted the motion for a mistrial based on the efforts of Congresswoman Waters to influence the jury.”

“Her message was clearly intended to get to the jury: ‘If you will acquit or if you find the charge less than murder, we will burn down your buildings. We will burn down your businesses. We will attack you. We will do what happened to the witness – blood on their door,'” he said.

Dershowitz told Newsmax that Waters’ “intimidation tactics” and the “threat of violence” should have resulted in a mistrial.

“The judge, of course, wouldn’t grant a mistrial because then he’d be responsible for the riots that would ensue, even though it was Waters who was responsible,” Dershowitz added.

Chauvin was convicted on Tuesday of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter after jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days.

Dershowitz is not the first to criticize Waters for her comments, as her statements over the weekend in Minneapolis prompted a strong backlash from Republican lawmakers.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ted Cruz quickly accused Waters of inciting violence, and Greene said that she had moved forward with filing a resolution on Monday to “expel” Waters from Congress for “inciting violent riots and Black Lives Matter terrorism.”

Meanwhile, minority leader Kevin McCarthy also filed a resolution of his own to censure Waters for her comments.

House Democrats blocked the resolution on Tuesday with a 216-to-210 vote.

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‘I’m not celebrating, I’m relieved’: Democratic lawmakers react to Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict with tears and hugs

cori bush ayanna pressley george floyd verdict
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 20: Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) embraces Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) as members of the Congressional Black Caucus react to the verdict in the Derick Chauvin murder trial in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on April 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges in the murder of George Floyd.

  • Democrats said they were “relieved” to hear the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri was crying as the verdict was announced on Tuesday.
  • “Today just marks the beginning,” Rep. Karen Bass of California said.
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Democratic lawmakers expressed their relief on Tuesday after a jury found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the death of George Floyd.

“Someone said it better than me: I’m not celebrating. I’m relieved,” Rep. Maxine Waters of California said.

“No joy today,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York tweeted. “Just relief.”

Reactions to the closely-watched case poured in shortly after the verdict’s announcement, which found Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, a Black Lives Matter activist, was captured crying and hugging fellow Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

cori bush ayanna pressley george floyd verdict
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 20: Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) (C) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) walk with their arms around each other as members of the Congressional Black Caucus walk to a news conference following the verdict in the Derick Chauvin murder trial in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on April 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges in the murder of George Floyd.

“This feels different for our community, justice feels new and long overdue,” Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said in a tweet.

Many high-profile Democrats also used the moment to highlight the ongoing issue of systemic racism in law enforcement, and the need for a congressional response.

“America was forever changed by the video of Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, referring to the footage of Chauvin, a white police officer who knelt for over nine minutes on the neck of Floyd, a Black man, while he was handcuffed and lying facedown on the ground. The video from last May ignited a wave of anti-racism and police brutality protests across the country and the world over the summer.

“However, a guilty verdict doesn’t mean the persistent problem of police misconduct is solved. We’ll keep working for meaningful change,” Schumer said.

“Today just marks the beginning,” Rep. Karen Bass of California said during a press conference with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Bass is the lead sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bill aimed at strengthening law enforcement accountability.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington echoed the stance, tweeting: “We must put an end to police brutality, racism, and white supremacy. We can’t just say Black lives matter-we must fight for Black lives.”

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont tweeted that the verdict “delivers accountability” but “not justice for George Floyd.”

“Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person,” he said.

For his part, Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York brought attention to other lives lost at the hands of law enforcement, including Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Tamir Rice, and Breonna Taylor, and underscored the need for justice.

“This verdict doesn’t change that racism, or the work ahead needed to transform those systems to serve us,” he wrote on Twitter.

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‘Clean up your mess, Kevin’: Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries responds to Maxine Waters censure effort by telling GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to ‘sit this one out’

hakeem jeffries
House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., speaks during a press conference on Feb. 3, 2021.

  • Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries admonished Republican efforts to censure Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters.
  • Jeffries argued that GOP leaders are hypocrites for condemning Waters’ comments urging protesters to “get more confrontational.”
  • “Clean up your mess, Kevin. Sit this one out,” Jeffries said, referring to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the 4th-highest ranking House Democrat, admonished Republican efforts to censure Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters and argued the GOP should deal with their own “mess” before attacking Democrats.

“Kevin McCarthy should focus on his own conference, because the Republicans in the House are a mess right now,” Jeffries told reporters. “Perhaps he should sit this one out.”

Jeffries named specific Republican lawmakers who’ve been mired in controversy in recent months.

“Lauren Boebert is a mess. Matt Gaetz is a mess. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a mess,” he said. “Clean up your mess, Kevin. Sit this one out.”

Waters is facing criticism for telling a group of supporters to “get more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murdering George Floyd, is acquitted. She made her comments during a visit to Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, where Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a police officer last week.

“We’ve got to stay on the street, and we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

The judge overseeing Chauvin’s trial called Waters’ remarks “abhorrent” and said they could warrant an appeal once the case is decided. The jury’s verdict is expected to be made public on Tuesday afternoon.

Republicans are planning to hold a vote to censure Waters on Tuesday afternoon. The party has refused to censure their own members who’ve been accused of making comments that incited violence, including before and during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Waters, saying the congresswoman’s remarks were “absolutely not” meant to incite violence.

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Kevin McCarthy jumps on Marjorie Taylor Greene’s bandwagon, saying he’ll introduce his own resolution to censure Maxine Waters for her ‘dangerous comments’

US House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy
US House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy plans to introduce his own resolution to censure Maxine Waters for comments she made to protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

  • House minority leader Kevin McCarthy plans to introduce his own resolution to censure Maxine Waters.
  • McCarthy announced his decision after Marjorie Taylor Greene said she wanted to “expel” Waters for “inciting Black Lives Matter terrorism.”
  • Waters has maintained that she did not encourage violence when she spoke to protesters near Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis.
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is jumping on Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s bandwagon as he plans to introduce a resolution of his own to censure Rep. Maxine Waters for what he calls “dangerous comments.”

McCarthy made this announcement after Greene said she wanted to expel Waters for “inciting violent riots and Black Lives Matter terrorism,” after comments Waters made to Minnesota protesters went viral on Twitter.

“This weekend in Minnesota, Maxine Waters broke the law by violating curfew and then incited violence. Speaker Pelosi is ignoring Waters’ behavior – that’s why I am introducing a resolution to censure Rep. Waters for these dangerous comments,” McCarthy wrote in a tweet posted on Monday evening.

According to The Hill, McCarthy could force a procedural vote on the matter, which would compel House members to participate in a roll-call vote on Waters.

Waters was speaking on Saturday to people protesting the police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright at a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, an incident that took place just 10 miles from where the high-profile murder trial of Derek Chauvin was ongoing.

According to a video posted on Twitter, Waters said she and the crowd were “looking for a guilty verdict” for Chauvin.

“We’ve got to stay in the streets, and we’ve got to demand justice,” she said. “I am hopeful that we will get a verdict that says, ‘guilty, guilty, guilty,’ and if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to get more confrontational.”

Lawmakers, including Greene and Ted Cruz, quickly accused Waters of inciting violence.

“Rep Waters is a danger to our society,” Greene tweeted, claiming that Waters had “traveled across state lines to incite riots.”

Greene said that she had moved forward with filing a resolution on Monday to “expel” Waters from Congress for “years of inciting violence.”

Waters denied that what she said to protesters encouraged violence in an interview with The Grio on Monday.

“I’m talking about confronting the justice system, confronting the policing that’s going on, I’m talking about speaking up,” Waters said.

“I am not worried that they’re going to continue to distort what I say. This is who they are and this is how they act. And I’m not going to be bullied by them,” Waters said, referring to her Republican colleagues.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has backed Waters, saying that she does not need to apologize for her remarks, adding that she did not believe Waters’s remarks incited violence.

“Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement. I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family. They’ve handled this with great dignity, and no ambiguity or lack of – misinterpretation by the other side. No, I don’t think she should apologize,” Pelosi said to reporters on Capitol Hill.

However, the comments Waters made might have affected the Chauvin murder trial, as Chauvin’s defense attorneys cited Waters’ words to call for a mistrial.

Judge Peter Cahill denied the motion, but spoke of Waters’ comments harshly, rebuking her for making comments about the trial while it was still unfolding.

“I’ll give it to you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you an appeal that could lead to this whole case being overturned,” Cahill said on Monday.

It should be noted that McCarthy did not punish Alabama congressman Mo Brooks for the fiery remarks he made at the Jan 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC.

Lawmakers pushed for Brooks to be censured or removed from the committees he sat on after he was seen telling a crowd of MAGA-clad protesters to be “American patriots” and to “start taking down names and kicking ass” in the “fight for America.”

Censure resolutions were later filed against Brooks by House Democrats.

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Maxine Waters did not incite a riot on Saturday. But she may have inspired a young woman to run for office.

GettyImages 1232376763
Representative Maxine Waters(C) (D-CA) speaks to the media during an ongoing protest at the Brooklyn Center Police Department in Brooklyn Centre, Minnesota on April 17, 2021. – Police officer, Kim Potter, who shot dead Black 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser was arrested April 14 on manslaughter charges.

  • Rep. Maxine Waters said protesters should be “more confrontational” if police enjoy impunity.
  • Some on the right have accused her of inciting violence. But protesters did not see it that way.
  • After Waters spoke, most people went to bed. One woman said she was inspired to run for office.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Did an 82-year-old Black woman incite a riot, or even commit an act of “domestic terrorism,” by urging people to continue protesting if police continue to get away with what they believe to be murder?

That was the claim in the right-wing media ecosystem this week – one which made it to the defense team for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, and into a column by CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who watered down the critique to “irresponsible.”

What did it actually set off?

Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democratic member of Congress from Los Angeles, attended a peaceful protest in Brooklyn Center, where a police officer this month killed an unarmed Black man during a traffic stop. While there, she addressed the crowd for about 10 minutes.

“I’m here from Washington, DC, because I could not sleep. I could not rest. I could not be satisfied that another young Black man has been killed by police. And Daunte Wright did not deserve to be killed,” Waters said.

“I’m here to say that I stand with you,” Waters said. And “there are many in Congress who feel like I do,” she said, assuring the crowd it had allies, of all colors, in the halls of power. “We’re going to stand for justice. We’re going to fight for justice.”

To this point, her remarks, posted online by the nonprofit media outlet Unicorn Riot (beginning at 2:12), were typical of a politician speaking to activists in the streets. If anything, they were palliative, serving as a reminder to those outraged by police killings that there are two tracks to criminal justice reform – that there are people who share the outrage of those in the streets who are working within the political system.

Rather than “defund the police,” Waters spoke of reimagining the role of law enforcement, questioning the utility of having cops respond to mental health calls, not challenging their existence.

It’s what she said after addressing the crowd, when speaking to a smaller group of reporters and citizen journalists, that went viral. Asked what protesters should do if Derek Chauvin is found not guilty of murder, Waters said: “Well, we gotta stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business,” Waters said.

That is the snippet being cast in the least charitable light as incitement to riot, among the conservative blogosphere, and on CNN as having “inflamed a very volatile situation.”

Waters’ Democratic colleagues don’t believe she even committed a faux pas, much less a crime or a reason to declare a mistrial in the Chauvin case. “I don’t think she meant violence, I’m convinced of that,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Monday. “She believes in her issues. And she speaks truth to power.”

But did protesters take it that way? The last time a politician was accused of inciting a riot, a violent mob stormed the US Capitol, attacking police officers with bear spray and fire extinguishers in an effort to thwart the peaceful transfer of power.

In a word: No. There was no riot in Minnesota after an elder stateswoman addressed a peaceful crowd of some 350 people. Many people left – her comments were just minutes before the city’s 11 p.m. curfew. “We are pleased to share that the city of Brooklyn Center had a quiet night on Saturday,” Reginald Edwards, the city’s acting city manager, said in a statement.

According to local media, protesters themselves made sure of that. Although assembled outside the local police station, “there was no attempt to breach the fences,” the Star Tribune reported; police likewise kept the calm, declining to escalate the situation with tear gas or flash-bang grenades. And when a few people shook the fence, later in the evening when the crowd had dwindled to less than 100, they “were dispersed by other protesters who argued for a more peaceful approach,” according to the paper.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, there was only one arrest on Saturday, and the crowd was “more subdued compared to Friday night,” when around 100 were arrested. MPR said that at times there was music and dancing and that even after curfew set in, “police did not advance on the crowd; instead, it dissipated on its own.”

If Maxine Waters sought to incite a riot, she plainly failed. But if she may have inspired someone to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m going to school to be in her shoes,” one young woman told Unicorn Riot after hearing Waters speak. “Seeing her, here right now, just makes me ready to be in her position,” she said, hardly able to contain her excitement. “So I’m running for president.”

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Marjorie Taylor Greene says she’ll introduce a resolution to expel Rep. Maxine Waters for her ‘continual incitement of violence.’

Marjorie Taylor Greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) wears a “Trump Won” face mask as she arrives on the floor of the House to take her oath of office on the opening day of the 117th Congress at the US Capitol on Sunday, January 3, 2021.

  • GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she’d introduce a resolution to expel Rep. Maxine Waters.
  • Greene said Waters incited violence when she spoke with protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
  • Protests in the city have gone on for a week following the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.
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GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she plans to introduce a resolution to expel Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters from Congress for her “continual incitement of violence on innocent American people.”

In a tweet on Sunday, Greene said Waters was inciting violence when she spoke with demonstrators in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Saturday.

“Rep Waters is a danger to our society,” Greene wrote.

Protests were on their seventh day following the police shooting of Daunte Wright when Waters spoke to a peaceful crowd past the 11 p.m. curfew that was imposed, The Star Tribune reported.

Waters told the crowd that she supports murder charges and called for police reform.

“We’ve got to get justice in this country, and we cannot allow these killings to continue,” Waters said.

But Greene said Waters had a hand in inciting violence.

“After traveling across state lines to incite riots, her orders recorded on video last night at the Brooklyn Center, directly led to more violence and a drive-by shooting on National Guardsmen in Minnesota early this morning,” she wrote.

On Sunday morning, two National Guardsmen suffered minor injuries when someone in an SUV fired at them while they were providing neighborhood security in Minneapolis, ABC News reported.

One guardsman was taken to the hospital for glass-related injuries while the other’s injuries were described as superficial. It’s not yet known who fired the shots.

Greene added: “As a sitting United States Congresswoman @MaxineWaters threatened a jury demanding a guilty verdict and threatened violence if Chauvin is found not guilty. This is also an abuse of power.”

At the protest, Waters said she and the crowd are “looking for a guilty verdict” for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin was charged with the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, and has been on trial in Minneapolis.

“We’ve got to stay in the streets, and we’ve got to demand justice,” Waters said in a video posted on Twitter from the event.

“I am hopeful that we will get a verdict that says, ‘guilty, guilty, guilty,’ and if we don’t, we cannot go away,” she added. “We’ve got to get more confrontational.”

In February, the House voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments as a response to her previous endorsement of political violence and support for QAnon conspiracy theories.

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Sen. Ted Cruz accused Rep. Maxine Waters of ‘actively encouraging riots and violence’ after she protested the police killing of Daunte Wright

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on March 9, 2021.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz accused Rep. Maxine Waters of inciting violence at protests against police brutality.
  • Waters rallied against recent police killings of Black men, telling demonstrators to remain in place.
  • “Democrats actively encouraging riots & violence,” Cruz tweeted in response to Waters’ remarks.
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Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday suggested that Rep. Maxine Waters was inciting violence by encouraging demonstrators in Minnesota to continue protesting against police brutality.

Waters, a California Democrat, attended on Sunday one of the protests against the police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

The protests have been set against the backdrop of the trial against Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer who killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. The courthouse where the trial takes place is only miles away from where an officer shot and killed Wright last week.

At the protest, Waters said she and the crowd are “looking for a guilty verdict” for Chauvin.

“We’ve got to stay in the streets, and we’ve got to demand justice,” she said, according to a video posted on Twitter from the event.

“I am hopeful that we will get a verdict that says, ‘guilty, guilty, guilty,’ and if we don’t, we cannot go away,” she added. “We’ve got to get more confrontational.”

Cruz, a Republican from Texas, blasted those remarks from Waters.

“Democrats actively encouraging riots & violence,” he tweeted in response, along with a Daily Mail article reporting Waters’ comments.

“They want to tear us apart,” he added.

Wright was fatally shot by Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, officer Kimberly Potter, who had 26 years of experience on the force. The department’s police chief said earlier this week that she intended to shoot Wright with her Taser, not her gun. Potter has since resigned and is facing a second-degree manslaughter charge.

After Wright was killed, protests erupted in the streets of Brooklyn Center and the surrounding Minneapolis area.

Starting from day one of the protests, officials called in the National Guard and imposed a curfew. Protesters have since broken that curfew to demonstrate against police brutality.

At some of these protests, police clashed with demonstrators and fired tear gas and nonlethal rounds to disperse the crowds. Among the protesters who were tear-gassed was Wright’s aunt, Kelly Bryant.

She told Insider she watched people throw garbage at the police.

“I have never seen anything like that in my life. I was tear-gassed,” she said. “It was not a pretty sight. I was watching people loot and break windows, stealing stuff out of stores, burning stuff. It was bad. It was really bad.”

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Congress just grilled a group of CEOs over the GameStop stock price fiasco in a hearing filled with heated exchanges, insults, and lots of technical difficulties

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev.

  • On Thursday afternoon, Congress held a hearing to address the GameStop stock fiasco. 
  • The hearing featured the CEOs of Robinhood, Citadel, Reddit, and Melvin Capital. 
  • Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev was the hearing’s main target, and it was plagued with technical issues.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Just weeks after the GameStop stock bubble popped, the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee held an hours-long hearing examining what happened.

Though that hearing featured a variety of chief executives, from Reddit CEO Steve Huffman to Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, and even featured one popular financial influencer, the main target of questioning was Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev.

Questions to Robinhood focused on the app’s decision to halt trading and how it “gamifies” stock trading

With over 50 members of the House of Representatives participating, the lines of questioning varied wildly. Some representatives asked Tenev about Robinhood’s choice to halt trading of GameStop and other such “meme stocks” on January 28, while others asked him about Alex Kearns, a 20-year-old Robinhood user who thought he had lost $730,000 on the app. Kearns died by suicide in June 2020. 

“I’m sorry to the family of Mr. Kearns for your loss,” Tenev said.

Kearns repeatedly contacted Robinhood’s help desk, but didn’t receive a response before he died. During his allotted time, Rep. Sean Casten played Tenev the recording that users hear when they call Robinhood for help.

He also criticized Robinhood for the “innate tension” at the heart of its business model, which he said is split “between democratizing finance, which is a noble calling, and being a conduit to feed fish to sharks.” 

Lawmakers primarily focused on Tenev due to the stock trading app’s critical role in the explosion of GameStop’s stock value: Between January 20 and January 26, GameStop’s stock value leaped from just over $35 per share to north of $140 per share. By January 27, it hit new highs of over $325 per share – an over 8,000% increase from just a few months ago.

The next morning, Robinhood halted trades of the stock because it ran out of money to cover the upfront cost of its customers stock purchases. The company even had to dilute its own value in order to quickly raise capital – a $3.4 billion investment from several different firms was announced in early February.

Tenev repeatedly told lawmakers the same story he’s told previously: Robinhood was forced to temporarily halt trading of GameStop and several other stocks because the National Securities Clearing Corporation demanded $3 billion to cover volatile trades.

And he refuted claims that the decision was driven by the hedge funds which had taken out short positions on GameStop stock, as did Melvin Capital Management CEO Gabe Plotkin who also joined the hearing.

Another notable criticism repeatedly leveled at Robinhood: Gamification. The app notoriously features audio and visual elements that cheer on user actions. “We didn’t encourage anyone to tap on anything,” Tenev said in one such exchange. “We wanted to give our customers delightful features so they know we’re listening to them and we care about them.”

Ken Griffin, Citadel (Congressional hearing, February 18)
Citadel CEO Ken Griffin.

Technical difficulties persisted throughout the nearly 5-hour hearing

From the very beginning of the hearing, technical issues plagued the video conference. Hot mics were frequent, and a few major sound issues caused pauses.

As the hearing – which kicked off at noon – pushed on, exchanges between legislators and interviewees got more and more brief.  

Legislators frequently cut in mid-answer with “I’ll reclaim my time” in an effort to squeeze another question in. And an exchange between Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Citadel CEO Ken Griffin just after the five-hour mark got particularly contentious, as he attempted to talk over her. “Let me finish my answer. I think it’s important,” he said. “No, no,” Tlaib responded. 

The few exchanges with Keith “Roaring Kitty” Gill, a stock trader who made a name for himself as a YouTuber, were largely focused on what he specializes in: stock advice. Gill said he would still buy GameStop stock at its current value, and that he initially bought in months ago because it was “undervalued.” Also of note: Gill’s opening statement included at least one notable meme reference.

Ultimately, there were no huge revelations about the GameStop stock bubble or the major players involved in it from Thursday’s hearing. It’s the first of several such hearings that the financial services committee plans in the wake of the bubble’s popping.

You can watch the full hearing below:

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Rep. Maxine Waters says she wants Redditor Keith Gill, Robinhood, and GameStop at a congressional hearing

Maxine Waters
Rep. Maxine Waters, seen in a June 25, 2020 photo, was the subject of a viral video after she stopped her car when she spotted a man being pulled over by police.

After scheduling a hearing into the GameStop trading fiasco, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters told Cheddar that she wanted Reddit trader Keith Gill, the Robinhood CEO, and a representative from GameStop to testify.

“I have [Keith Gill] on my list to be present…I want him here… And I want absolutely to have Robinhood. I even want to have GameStop here,” Rep. Waters told Cheddar.

 

Earlier in the day, Waters confirmed to Bloomberg that she is actively working on the invite list for the February 18 hearing.

“I have my wish list but it’s not finalized yet. I’m trying to get everybody that, you know, has a role to play. I want Reddit there. I want Robinhood there. I even want GameStop there. And I want a couple of the hedge funds there,” Rep. Waters told Bloomberg. “I’m looking at Citadel and Melvin Capital.”

Announcing the hearing last week, Waters said that, “Addressing that predatory and manipulative conduct is the responsibility of lawmakers and securities regulators who are charged with protecting investors and ensuring that our capital markets are fair, orderly, and efficient.”

Keith Gill, who goes by “DeepF—ingValue” on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum and Roaring Kitty on YouTube, is widely credited with leading the charge in bolstering the buying of GameStop stock alongside retail investors in the subreddit, leading the company’s stock price to skyrocket 8,000% over the last six months. 

According to The New York Times, regulators may be looking at Gill for promoting GameStop stock while still employed and leaving former employer MassMutual.

On January 28th, trading platform Robinhood pulled the rug from under retail investors, freezing trades on GameStop ($GME), AMC ($AMC), BlackBerry ($BB), Bed Bath & Beyond ($BBBY), and Nokia ($NOK), all stocks that Reddit users were buying.

Prior to the surges, major hedge funds had been heavily shorting, or betting against, those stocks.

Robinhood called its freeze a “risk-management decision” due to “extraordinary circumstances.” After the frenzy, Robinhood also announced that it raised  $1 billion from existing investors this week.

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