Booker on Waters' Call to Harass Trump Officials: 'There's Nothing Wrong With Confronting' But Do It With 'Love'

June 25, 2018

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said Monday there was "nothing wrong with confronting" Trump administration officials in public, but he conditioned it should be done with "love."

In an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Booker responded to a clip of Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) encouraging supporters to publicly harass Trump officials during a rally on Saturday. Her remarks came in the wake of incidents like protesters jeering Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last week until she left a restaurant, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave a Virginia eatery on Friday.

"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," Waters said.

Asked by Mitchell if he supported the comments by Waters, Booker replied he subscribed to an ideal of "radical love."

"Yes, you should protest. Yes, you should confront evil and injustice," he said. "But do it in the ways that Martin Luther King did ... Recognizing the dignity of even those who you oppose, even those who are trying to destroy you."

Speaking at the border in McAllen, Texas, Booker said he worried about a descent in the country's culture into Americans hating Americans. He did say protests should occur while "moral outrages" were occurring, such as illegal immigrant family separation.

"We've got to get to a point in our country where we can talk to each other, where we are all seeking a more beloved community, and some of those tactics that people are advocating for, to me, don't reflect that spirit," he said. "And so, yes, if I saw an administrator out and about, there's nothing wrong with confronting that person, but not to lead with love and to do it in a way that is more reflective of the values that we are trying to reject in our country is unacceptable to me."

"Let's elevate those tactics from people that we hail in our nation, from Gandhi to King, and reflect those values in our urgent protests, in our urgent activism, but always leading with love in our country," he added.

Waters' comments received condemnation from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who blamed President Donald Trump for promoting a drop in civility but called Waters' rhetoric "unacceptable."

Waters made similar remarks to her protest during an MSNBC interview on Saturday, praising the idea of people confronting Trump officials in public until they were forced to resign.