Congresswoman Maxine Waters chants “Impeach 45” at the end of her speech
Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press
In no uncertain terms, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters warned those who prey on women to “keep your hands off” Saturday at the Women’s Convention in Detroit.
The 79-year-old Democratic icon from California, who’s known for her no-filter honesty, was greeted with a standing ovation by a crowd at the Cobo Center.
Waters was there to speak to a packed hall of attendees — and to be honored for speaking truth to power at an event titled the Sojourner Truth Luncheon.
Focusing largely on the issue of sexual harassment and assault that’s been driven by the news about movie producer Harvey Weinstein, Waters stressed that the problem isn’t limited to the entertainment industry.
Citing teachers, nurses, women serving in the military and fellow U.S. representatives who’ve added their voices to the #MeToo movement, Waters declared that such behavior toward women will not be tolerated.
“Keep your nasty comments away from us… Keep your hands off our backs and our … bodies. We’re not going to take it anymore,” she warned.
Waters also made it clear that she thinks President Donald Trump is part of the problem.
“This president has no respect for women,” said Waters. do we need to add some context here on how the women’s march movement was created by decisions he had made in his administration?
The Waters speech was one of the most anticipated offerings of the first such convention ever held by the Women’s March movement.
And Auntie Maxine, as she has been nicknamed for her outspokenness, did not disappoint. She began her remarks by warning those trying to divide the women’s resistance movement to “go to hell.”
She concluded by leading a spirited chant of “Impeach 45” aimed at Trump.
Laura Chapman, 40, of Putney, Vt., said Waters struck the right tone during her speech.
“I loved how she called Trump out and I loved how she encouraged women to speak out and led us in an ‘impeach’ chant,” Chapman said.
“It was so powerful to hear thousands of women chant ‘impeach.’ I’m still shaking.”
Janice Kellogg, who came to Detroit from San Francisco, saved her seat an hour before the lunch, which consisted of self-serve sandwiches, salads, apples and snacks arranged on tables.
“She’s truth out loud,” said Kellogg of Waters. “That’s what she means to me. She doesn’t hold back. She has no fear. She’s for truly letting her filter go.”
One of the loudest ovations for Waters came when she brought up how Trump had walked intimidatingly near Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a 2016 debate.
“Remember what Hillary should have said: Creep, get off my back!,” Waters intoned.
Among the speakers who preceded Waters on Saturday was U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, who fought a hoarse voice to praise her House colleague for her candor.
Dingell told convention-goers it was time to turn the energy and passion of January’s Women’s March into action and results.
Also attending was U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who was brought onstage after Waters’ address.
Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List,creator of? What is her title? another introductory speaker Saturday, shared the fact that “as of this week and this convention, over 20,000 women have raised their hand” to express interest in running for political office.
Schriock cited goals of taking back the House and Senate from the Trump-led GOP in upcoming elections, adding, “And Donald Trump, we’re coming for you next.”
The Women’s Convention theme, “Reclaiming Our Time,” was inspired by Waters and her questioning of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a congressional hearing. As Mnuchin used Waters’ allotted time with long answers, Waters created a catch-phrase by repeating to him, “reclaiming my time.”
On Saturday, Monica Lindsey, 45, of Annapolis, Md., said she wore a T-shirt on the first day of the convention with the slogan, “I persist to resist because I am reclaiming my time.”
Said Lindsay,spelling , “I am reclaiming my time in honor of Maxine Waters and all the other women who would not give up. It’s tiring, but we have to keep fighting this battle.”
The convention runs through Sunday.
Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds: 313-222-6427.
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