March 20th, 2010
08:19 PM ET
5 years ago

Protesters hurl slurs and spit at Democrats

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Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis was the target of racial slurs on Saturday.
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis was the target of racial slurs on Saturday.

Washington (CNN) - Civil rights icon and veteran Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, said anti-health care bill protesters Saturday repeatedly yelled the "N" word at him as he left a heath care meeting and walked to the Capitol.

"I haven't seen heard anything like this in more than 40 years, maybe 45." Lewis said. "Since the march from Selma to Montgomery really."

"Yeah, but it's okay," Lewis added. "I've faced this before. So, it reminded me of the 60's. There's a lot of downright hate and anger and people are just being downright mean."

The incident was confirmed by Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indiana, who was walking with Lewis at the time. Protesters were yelling, "'kill the bill, kill the bill' and the 'N' word several times," Carson said.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, released a statement late Saturday saying he too was called the "N" word as he walked to the Capitol for a vote and that he was spat on by one protestor who was arrested by U.S. Capitol Police. Cleaver declined to press charges against the man, the statement said.

Protesters also hurled anti-gay comments at Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, who is openly gay, as he left the same health care meeting that Lewis attended in a House office building.

A CNN producer overheard the word "faggot" yelled at Frank several times in the lobby of the Longworth building. Frank said he heard someone yell "homo" at him.

"I'm disappointed," Frank said. "There's an unwillingness to be civil."

Frank, who said he rarely hears such slurs anymore, said the health care issue has become "the proxy for a lot of other sentiments. A lot of which are perfectly reasonable but some of which are kind of ugly."


Filed under: Barney Frank • Health care • John Lewis • Popular Posts
soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. badcyclist

    You would think that Representatives Lewis and Frank would be used to Republican civility by now.

    March 21, 2010 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  2. johanna

    How very, very sad for some to act this way. When will people learn that just because they have the right to do things doesn't always make it the right thing to do? This has gone beyond the issues at hand and people are treating it as a "free for all" because of their ignorance, to throw their insults. We've read about things like this happening before, but what worries me is I'm sure it won't be the last time. Talk about going backwards.....

    March 21, 2010 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  3. Roy

    That shows that the Republicans & TEA Partiers are evil. I am calling them "The Evil Association" Party.

    March 21, 2010 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  4. Steve

    Feel free to step forward and smack these punks. Demand respect. They're just loudmouth punks. They need and desire to be smacked. I smacked 4 teapartiers recently. They seem to like it, or at least cower and run away. So smack em.

    March 21, 2010 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  5. KBax

    The people that called names and spat are utterly ridiculous! I don't agree with this bill, but I would call people names. That gets you nowhere, and if anything sets us back years. The people that did this should be ashamed!

    March 21, 2010 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  6. Amazed

    Yes the base of the Republican Party shows it's true colors.

    March 21, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. phil ryan

    Well, at least this illustrates perfectly what this brand of Republican party is. This is the deep south, black hating, white men only rule this country party. We have willfully uninformed middle aged to older white folk opening their mouth with wonderful nuggets like "If they pass this health care, they're gonna come after guns next." Gee, you think she listens to Glen Beck? Rush? Hannity. Fox News is a dangerous organization which has done everything short of incite riots. Roger Ailes belongs behind bars and as for Murdoch? That old fool needs deporting back to Australia - if they will have him back. So the next time CNN bends over backwards to portray these goons as people with a point, just remember what they said. The N word flew, black men were spit on. And it's about time CNN grew a spine and uncover this "movement" for what it is KKK sympathizers masking their agenda as just concern over the deficit. Something they were silent on for the last 8 years during the Bush era. I never saw Boehner spat upon or senior citizen McConnell - both smug race baiters. Absolutely disgusting trash. Couple that with the incident with the man sitting on the ground having insults and dollar bills thrown at him and you see this party of morality and values has neither morals NOR values.

    March 21, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  8. starburst

    This is Disgusting. People should be ashamed for treating people like that.

    March 21, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  9. Terry - Indiana

    All paid for by the Republican Party.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  10. AH

    This is sad day in America.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  11. Recently Employed by Federal Stimulus Spending

    I have known all along that many of the people protesting against healthcare reform are using this issue as a cover to protest that fact that we have a black man serving as President of the United States.

    The very fact that some of these people are openly using the "N" word is proof of this.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  12. Barb

    Too sad but too typical. The tea baggers I know personally (family members) are NOT the sharpest tool in the shed, and can't argue without resorting to hate speech.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  13. Jonesey

    Dumb crackers... and I'm white.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  14. Vietnam Veteran (DC)

    Finally they came out of the closet and express their true beleif , instead of the smoke and mirrors hiding behind the Big Goverment, Social Medicine and all of the other trigger fear words they and the Repugs are famous for. I am willing to bet no repub will condem any of their actions because they know this small racist so call tea party group is expressing the beleif of them and a small minority of americans. Its not about the Health Care bill, its about disrespecting and or blocking any legislation push forward by a Black President whom a small minority still can't accept.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  15. AH

    This is a sad day in America.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  16. Ron Colvin

    "N" Word, I quest the Republican leadership is showing the their true
    colores, what a shame !!!

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  17. Charlie

    It doesn't surprise me, people who can't intelligently debate or express themselves regarding a topic always resort to personal attacks.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  18. mike.texas

    A repeat of the civil rights movement and we know how that went.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  19. marcus2

    These Teabaggers are totally disgusting. Thanks Fox News for all you've done to showcase these crazed racists.

    March 21, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  20. fastrack

    sticks and stones...stir up a crowd, tell them lies, and then sit back and watch them hate. "Boner" must be really proud to be an American right now.

    March 21, 2010 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  21. forty

    These tea party/Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity, idiots are taking a page right out of German history. Start reading propaganda spread by Joseph Goebbels throughout pre-world war II, and you will see the fascism spewed by the right. They hate, separate, and demonize others in this country. This is all done to control their followers. Next time you hear the words "real Americans" take a good look at who is saying it. Anybody in this country still using the N word has got real issues, and it points directly to their intellectual deficiencies. Come on America, we have to be better than this! Shut Glenn Beck off tonight! All he is doing is making millions stirring the pot with hatred, misinformation, and lunacy. America cannot afford anymore foot dragging, and mud throwing! Grow up.....

    March 21, 2010 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  22. Mike Mc

    further proof that the tea party movement is just a thinly veiled disguise for a bunch of redneck racists with more bullets than brains.

    March 21, 2010 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  23. Honest Abe

    Republicans are true ANIMALS! The Anti – American Racist slurs show the real nature of anti-health care tea bagger GOPs.

    March 21, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  24. Brena

    The people who oppose healthcare in my mind are people who are biggots. It's really not about healthcare to them. It's Reputlicans vs. Democrats, it's about a minority president in the most powerful position in this nation. It can't be about healthcare because, unless you're an executive who get extra health insurance perks, healthcare needs reforming.

    March 21, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  25. adm

    And the teapartiers expect to be taken seriously.

    March 21, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
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