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. andrewstl

    wow the repubs are really showuing thier true colors.

    too bad repubbs .

    the gmae has changed

    March 21, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  2. izzy

    this is really terrible! Why are people so afraid of change that is for their own good? If health care doesn't pass, these people who are so against it deserve to have their rates raised so high they can't afford it! where were all the protests when Bush was handing out tax cuts for the wealthy not once but twice,,,,,,now THAT'S socialism! So American;s are for tax cuts for the wealthy but against health care for all?

    March 21, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  3. Matt

    It's all they have left. Can't argue on the merits? Spit and yell racial slurs. Classy.

    March 21, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  4. sylvia

    IT is very sad to see how people call each other with bad names,just because they do not agreed.very ugly, and they supossed to be the educated???????????????????????????

    March 21, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  5. JMN

    I am ashamed of these people who use these words so carelessly. I suspect there were no people over 60 hurling these epithets. How ignorant are our youth who grew up in comfort, but without guidance, obviously.

    We who lived the 50's/60's remember the days of pain, sacrifice, examination of consciences, and the final realization that the right, logical, and moral thing to do was recognize what we should have known all along. We are all born equal in the eyes of our country and our Supreme Being (if that is your belief system).

    To hurl defamatory words at people because they don't agree with you is the sure sign that you have lost the argument. Otherwise, you would have brought something rational to the table.

    March 21, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  6. Zair

    Can't say I'm surprised.

    March 21, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  7. Fitz

    Gotta love those .....I mean Tea Party Protesters

    March 21, 2010 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  8. Harold Aubry

    GO, OBAMA, GO !!!!!!!!!!!

    Can't believe the idiocy and sophomoric logic of the "Boehner Bombers".

    March 21, 2010 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  9. Slider

    Well who didn't see this well-worn Democrat tactic coming?

    Save it, Lewis.

    Or provide proof.

    Right.

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

    Sad, very sad

    March 21, 2010 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  11. RespectOthersAlways

    Stay strong Democrats. Pass health care reform and you'll earn the respect and admiration of millions.

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

    Hey GOP, bring as many of these dimwitted Tea beggers over to your side as possible. You brought them in your camp so you keep them. Your house of cards have imploded on you, making your party look like a bunch of silly fools(which you are). Congrats, you wanted these monkeys, well, you got'em!! LOL

    March 21, 2010 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  13. Jason

    The time to be civil has gone when those elected to "represent us" turn their backs. If this bill passes, what you saw at the rally will be nothing compared to what's going to happen when people start losing their jobs because companies can no longer afford to pay them. The United States has gone many years without the need for civil disobediance. I would not want to be in law enforcement if this socialist framework bill passes on Sunday.

    March 21, 2010 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  14. Mark E

    Dems accuse...you lib hacks in the press report as "news." Nothing changes.

    March 21, 2010 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  15. TheTruth

    CNN, Try pointing out it was the TEA PARTY next time.
    That's kind of important.

    March 21, 2010 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  16. J M

    This is unacceptable. My family did not suffer through the sixties and seventies with the civil rights movement and women's lib for my generation to accept the verbal attack of African Americans and homosexuals. I love America because it is inclusive and accepting of difference. Immigrants included! How DARE (seeming) protesters of the health care issue bring this hatred to these politicians OR ANY AMERICAN OR ANYONE? Very upsetting and TOTALLY UN-AMERICAN.

    March 21, 2010 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  17. Obamalism

    My gut feeling tells me this guy is full of crap. Stuff is not looking good..QUICK!, Get me a race card, STAT!

    Over and over we're told how racist the tea partiers are, yet amazingly enough, no one seems to be able to produce any visual evidence. No pictures, camera phones, you tubes, nothing... yet we have countless videos of SEIU thugs instigating violence at such events.

    Isn't it also quite telling how the tea partiers don't leave the protest grounds totally trashed like some other groups?

    March 21, 2010 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  18. Dan

    Please change the caption on the photo from 'if' to of.

    March 21, 2010 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  19. char

    he used the same tatic during the hillary campaign claiming someone said something racist to him.
    he does this everytime he thinks it benefits him.

    March 21, 2010 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  20. Stuart E Ribblett

    Do We truly expect anything less from the backward thinking ,small minded,race baiting, tea baggers,birthers ,anti intellectuals that optimize all that it wrong with our country and the Republican Party in general? This whole mess has nothing to do with the Constitution, the "Government take over of health care",or some crazy communist/socialist plot to take over the United States. It has everything to do with weakminded people being lied to by the GOP to do the bidding for large corporations that do not have the best interest of the American people at heart.Where were these same people when Dubya passed his midnight hour BS underfunded prescription drug program?His unconstitutional wire tapping of American citizens ?His and Karl Roves bold faced lies to wage war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no weapons of mass destruction? I can't help but be bewildered by the rallies attended by retired people on social security and medicare who do the bidding for a Party that would eliminate said programs if they had their way. If this is truly how you feel,send the SS money and the medicare check back! Just as I thought,Say one thing and do another!

    March 21, 2010 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  21. Bryn Davies

    This goes to show you that the polarization in America is also about bigotry. It's more than "disappointing". It's outrageous: Racists of America against health care!

    March 21, 2010 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  22. James

    I am not sure that the health care bill is the best, but this is terrible. I can understand protesting something you don't like but racial or personal insults should not be allowed. To actually spit on the representatives is unbelievable to me. What are these people thinking? They have to know that these actions are going to be reported and it sure makes their side look terrible. I am someone who has probably voted Republican more times than not over the last 40 years and I am disappointed that these people probably call themselves Republican. This really disgusts me.

    March 21, 2010 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  23. ClintonFan

    Many Republicans are not much different than the Nazis of World War II.

    March 21, 2010 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  24. gary

    Truth hurts, doesn't it?

    March 21, 2010 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  25. EOR

    They call these people racist when these congressmen are a part of the most racist group in the country. Fact: the congressional black caucus does not allow anyone to join thei group except blacks. Talk about racism!

    March 21, 2010 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
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