March 20th, 2010
08:19 PM ET
4 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. Blu

    Ultra conservatives once again finely displaying those christian ideals they stand so staunchly behind.

    March 21, 2010 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  2. Brenda

    When people are so disrespectful I cease to listen to them – spitting – ugh! – who brought them up???

    Though not perfect. this is a start – I thank all those who have the courage to vote for it!

    March 21, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  3. sgtmac

    These people are true 'Southern Gentlemen".

    March 21, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  4. Renee

    HOW to tell A Racist. ( buzzwords Tea party)
    a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

    March 21, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  5. Dan - San Mateo, CA

    It amazes me how angry people can get over something that most of them don't even understand.

    If most these people would review the past record of the Republican Party, they would see that the Republicans are responsible for the Funding problems with Social Security and Medicare, for they have been trying since the begining to destroy both programs.

    I really can't believe that they can say America is a Christian Nation by the way the act and live their lives.

    As American. please accept my apology for the ignorance of those who show no compassion.

    March 21, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  6. scott

    In a country as great and generous as the US, it is so sad that people can become so hateful that they would spit on another human being. The class and grace of Representative Cleaver shown by not pressing charges should give us all pause for thought

    March 21, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  7. Dylan

    Though I am against the Health Care scam that is trying to be passed, I see no need for racial slurs and I'm appauled at that. As American's were allowed to agree or disagree with the government, but leave race out of it...

    March 21, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  8. Larry Mullins

    i want reform but not withe extreme right or extreme left calling the shots...the are not protecting the real working people of america...they are clueless stagnant business as usual...typical politician...they think they know whats best for people they have nothing in common with...just sayn

    March 21, 2010 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  9. Flan

    65% of America is outraged disgusted and disappointed in your cowardly acts, holding out to get paid off for your votes, and you will see it at the midterms and for decades to come. The democratic party will suffer ten times longer than the Republicans did, and we will recall, repeal, impeach and nullify everything The ineligible O has signed. You can take that to the bank, progressives.

    March 21, 2010 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  10. CT

    Spitting at Democrats eh? Imagine what Republicans would say if it was the other way around!! When is America going to wake up and recognize political demagogues that are profiting by dividing America?
    Dividing America is big business these days with AM talk shows and Fox News. It's modern treason in my book.

    March 21, 2010 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  11. Mike

    Wow! Republicans are classy!

    March 21, 2010 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  12. Ben

    I knew that it was only a matter of time before these protestors real KKK identity was revealed! When you hear the rhetoric (which often has nothing to do with the debate over health care) a lot of it is no different from what you would hear at your local Klan rally. Sad. Really sad!

    March 21, 2010 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  13. jimhh46

    The core of the teabag movement has always been a virulent racism brought on by the election of President Obama. This nation ignores that white supremacist dynamic at its peril.

    March 21, 2010 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  14. Joan of Arc

    This is very sad. Civility should be among all americans. We may differ on views. We may be Democratic or Republican. We may be of different races, but we are all americans. We all love this country and should respect that. Having an opposing view should not make us enemies. We settle our differences at the poll; and then respect and work together. A house divided will fall. If we truly love americia, we must stop the hate and fear. BTW, I do say yes to health care. That should not make someone hate me just as I do not hate anyone who is against it.

    March 21, 2010 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  15. Tim

    The hoods have come off. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and thanks for identifying with this language, GOP.

    March 21, 2010 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  16. Left Coast Mike

    And so now the inevitable true face of the tea baggers, racists, ne-nazi cowards. We knew it was coming. These days, you can yell "fire" in a movie theatre because anything goes. The Republican Party, its angry, loud-mouthed spokesmen at FOX, are responsible for this. If you want your country to look like Nazi Germany, circa 1936, just look the other way.

    I will not. I'm a Democrat and I have a gun too. I'll use it if I have to on this garbage to defend the freedoms my forefathers have fought for since the Declaration of Independance to Constitution of the United States of America against these racist cowards. The Tea Party today is no different than the National Socialist Party of 1933.

    March 21, 2010 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  17. Dem TIl death

    Just don't let some scab republicans scare you.Vote for the Bill.

    March 21, 2010 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  18. Salsa

    There's the bottom line on all this hate and contension. It's not the healthcare reform, it's anything and everything this administration is trying to do for the good of the American people and it all stems from the fact that the religious conservative Republicans are nothing but racist biggots who care nothing about their fellow human beings. All they care about is hating blacks, immigrants, gays and anyone who believes in a woman's right to choose, oh, and making sure they keep their money while trying to make sure the middle class and the poor don't get anything. Keep the down trodden down, that's the way they operate. If the above doesn't show their true colors, I don't know what dies!!!

    March 21, 2010 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  19. Billy D

    Interesting that other sources say that no one was arrested. Also interesting that only members of the black congress and Barney Frank were supposedly yelled at.

    March 21, 2010 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  20. Justin

    That is what happens when Republicans take of the evangelical mask and show their true colors.

    March 21, 2010 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  21. markw

    The Tea Party exposed itself for what they really are. Nothing more than a anger filled racist mob using a political podium to spew their vile hatred toward anyone outside of their prejudiced mind set.

    March 21, 2010 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  22. Derek

    plain sad...

    March 21, 2010 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  23. Salsa

    Sorry, does not dies!!!

    March 21, 2010 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  24. Ryan

    And there you have it. The Teabaggers have confirmed what we all knew all along – they're not angry at government, they just hate minorities. They hate that there's an (half)African American for President, they hate that sexual minorities are in legislation...

    Of course, we knew this when they were screaming about taxes being raised all year and yet NONE OF US have seen a tax increase (a decrease if anything but certainly no increase).

    I am not at all surprised by this. NOT in the least. All those Bubbas and Lurlenes are actually proud to be this ignorant and stupid. They really are.

    March 21, 2010 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  25. It is what it is

    What? They forgot to disparage women? No B- word hurled at Pelosi? Lazy teatards...

    March 21, 2010 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
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