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. Kajaan

    one should listen to the right wing radio and TV hosts to know that this is being provoked by them. Glen Beck took a break in his show to make his guest repeat in a prepared statement that Obama is like Sadam Hussain and Mugabe...!
    where is the civility in that.? when is this going to be about us the tax payers instead of the single agenda of the republican party .."shut Obama down...!!'

    March 21, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  2. Doug

    The protesters are showing their true selves. Sad, hate-filled people.

    March 21, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  3. viv mcpeak

    There will always be the ignorant, the bigoted, and the hateful among us. We cannot let that deter us from advancing and progressing as a society and culture.

    Health care is not only a basic human right, it is in the best interest of our nation. A strong, healthy workforce is a productive workforce, and it only makes sense to provide health care to Americans who cannot afford the corrupted and abused corporate model we have today.

    It is a shame that other nations provide this essential service to their citizens but in the United States we do not. well, that is, if you except the U.S. Senate.

    March 21, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  4. Ben

    This should not surprise anyone. The Tea Party movement has consistently shown signs of racism and other types of bigotry and those tendencies are just coming out in the open now. Barney Frank is quite right in pointing out that the health care issue has become a proxy issue for a whole range of other, less publicly acceptable anxieties.

    March 21, 2010 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  5. Roy Jones

    Typical tea party reaction- hate and rude behavior. Thr right wing radicals don't know any other way to act. How pitiful and disgusting

    March 21, 2010 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  6. Markus

    Tea Party Members are American, and passionate, and saying slurs is just a use of vocabulary to get attention. The fact that they used the n-word to a black man's attention, is nothing special. Rap stars use the word all the time.

    March 21, 2010 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  7. Jack

    When the revolution actually comes, I hope the first against the wall are the idiotic, mouth-breathing, scum bag cowards that shouted this nonsense today.

    March 21, 2010 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  8. SHughes

    Civility has been lost because our politicans have created a world of fear and hate (and by politicians I mean Republicans). This bill is for AMERICANS, and is the best piece of legislation to come from congress in a very long time and if the Glenn Becks and Rush's of the world had at least half a mind to see that, they too would understand this is the right thing to do. Instead, they spread fear and hate and that is all the republican part knows and can fathom. Are we still in America?

    March 21, 2010 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  9. eyewonder

    I wonder where all of the funding for protestors who spew hatred comes from?

    March 21, 2010 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  10. retard

    wow.................
    how intelligent

    March 21, 2010 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  11. James Wagner

    The republicans are starting to show their true colors, beside not trying to solve problems they are just building more problems and you can see shades of the of the hate groups that we had hoped were gone!

    March 21, 2010 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  12. Huck

    Hatred breeds contempt. Since the Republicans and conservatives do nothing except this sort of thing, it is obvious they are neither patriotic nor concerned about our country as a whole and I feel nothing but contempt for them. If there is a revolution coming, I'll defend America, our President, Democrats, and Liberals using the guns that the Republicans guaranteed me the right to own. I've never wished ill will toward anyone, but if the health care reform doesn't pass, I pray that such idiots as involved in this protest get the privilege of watching someone they love die from lack of affordable insurance. Better yet, may they themselves not receive the same care that the Republican obstructionists guarantee themselves. Evilness must be addressed now, and true Americans need to line up face-to-face to the bigots and idiots and demand civility. Wonder what Jesus thinks when He sees their actions? God bless the USA and true Americans.

    March 21, 2010 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  13. char

    he is a liar nobody said anything to him,
    This is just another way for them to use the racecard!

    March 21, 2010 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  14. Miranda

    All I can say is if the bill passes it will likely get even uglier. People are tired of our Goverment and unruly behavior has been surpressd for awhile now, WE THE PEOPLE DO NOT WANT THE BILL!

    March 21, 2010 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  15. RK

    This just confirms what I've suspected about the "loyal opposition". Just a bunch of angry bigots.

    March 21, 2010 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  16. Anonymous

    So this is the freedom we fight for everyday, have the hate overcome people that much. See this is what happens when people spead bogus information in the media and these so called town hall meeting.Now you heard all this people talking about the Constitution and we the people and you smart guys come up the N-word..... You all should be shame of yourselve and embrassed over the current behavior.

    March 21, 2010 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  17. jeff

    This is just wrong. We are all against the bill and know the Dems will do whatever the President and Nancy tell them to do but to do this is not what America stands for. what we stand for is to kick them out of office for not listening to us. Do not lower yourself

    March 21, 2010 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  18. Amy

    CNN failed to mention that the protesters that were yelling racial slurs and spitting on democrats were tea baggers. Maybe that is because CNN is the main supporters of The Tea Party–Like FOX is for the Republican party.

    March 21, 2010 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  19. Babbalouie

    Once again the Tea Partyers showed us all who they really were: ethnocentric racists. Their declarations about avoiding an increase in the federal deficit and concerns over having to pay higher taxes are only a smokescreen to cover up their true natures.Way to go guys, now take your tea bags and go home. And while you're at it, take Rep. Steve King with you.

    March 21, 2010 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  20. Linda Reynolds

    If this is what the Republicans and religious conservatives think is the way to behave as Christians, they are badly mistaken!!!

    March 21, 2010 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  21. BillyBob

    These protestors need to be arrested

    March 21, 2010 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  22. bl

    This is another attempt by the media to condemn the tea party and focus on a select few to put the movement down. This network never focuses on the positive aspect of the movement, instead they find whatever they can to make protesters look like racist bigots. Its un,fortunate that CNN cannot be neutral. If they put stories like this up, they should also put positive stories up about the movement too. The tea party is a national movement and despite this network's attempt and hope to squash it and silence it, it will only grow bigger and stronger as the citizenry, both black and white, wake up and come together to reestablish the American ideals the founders formed this country on. Sorry CNN but this story won't have the effect your looking for.

    March 21, 2010 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  23. Lucretia

    Americans shouldn't be spitting on other Americans. It was wrong during Vietnam and it's wrong now.

    March 21, 2010 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  24. Ken

    It takes some truly childish whackos to scream epithets and spit at politicians, JUST because they aren't getting their way. I feel very sorry for the right if this is the nature of their psychosis.

    March 21, 2010 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  25. Mohammed Mohammed

    so this is what it comes down to. people showing their true colors as to why they protest against the health bill. Most people who protest, I dare say over 90% have not even read the thing, or even attempted to understand it and what it will or wont do, they are just motivated by hate towards a party, or a president who they dont like not because of his policies but because of his color, and if you think I am wrong, well this article speaks for its self

    March 21, 2010 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
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