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

Protesters hurl slurs and spit at Democrats


[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Yachimen

    Real sanitary. Finally, good riddance to a crazy broken system

    March 20, 2010 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  2. harmonywoods

    it's sad that the health care reform bill fight has resorted to this ugly name calling. What these people don't realize is that it probably will backfire on other words you don't get what you want by hurling racial and antigay epithets. It's not helpful. I hope the health care reform bill passes because we need it and it will help millions of people and will save money for the country in the long run. It's too bad that so many people are making their decision about healthcare reform based on fear and not on what is right. I applaud Obama for trying to do what is right.

    March 20, 2010 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  3. misanthropicus

    Someone heard something, a few saw something, there isn't any trace of evidence here, and this article fits perfectly the illustration of a primitive hack job, too – god, have the Dems reached this level of despair that they hired Chavez's electoral strategists? Gross, gross, primitive. I have no opinion about the HC bill – yet the Dems' tactics made me hate it, and regardless of results, in the same vengeful mode I'll walk to the voting station this November –

    March 20, 2010 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  4. kay

    These Tea Party people are disgusting.

    March 20, 2010 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  5. abu-bakarr

    i was really dissappointed to those mod who attacked and use racial slur against our civilright activist and obedientman who gave so much to this land,shame on republican party again!!!!!!!!

    March 20, 2010 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  6. Moi

    It is those pieces of trash who were ugly to Lewis, Cleaver and Frank who deserve to lose. You don't like their politics and their policies? Fine. But your bigotry is disgusting, and un-American.
    God Bless America!!

    March 20, 2010 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  7. re


    March 20, 2010 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  8. Bill in Dallas

    This exposes the Republicans to what they are, racist. They don't talk issues because they don't have issues, they can only fight with slogans and sound bites. I truly believe it is not health care or the stimulus package that got these extremist off their butts and into the streets, it was racisim and their inability to accept an African American President. The majority of us have to endure these fanatics because the main stream media loves them because they give them the controversy they want to sell deorderant. This is truly a sad commentary on us as a Nation.

    March 20, 2010 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  9. Ethel Bailey

    I am not suprise at the racial slurs that was used on Saturday. Beacuse the people have not changed at all they are saying thy are sheep, knowing they are still wearing wool clothing. The slurs will never leave as lone as the world is inexisting.

    March 20, 2010 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  10. Shaquanda

    Good. I hate that fgt.

    Shaquanda in da house y'all!

    March 20, 2010 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  11. Dave

    While I agree there needs to be health care overhaul, I do not agree with this bill. However there is no excuse, no matter how upset you are, to call these congressman the names that were used. These demonstrators weren't acting like adults or children, because children behave better than these people did. You will not get anywhere's with this type of action.

    March 20, 2010 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  12. Laura B.

    Wonder what Michael Steele would have to say about his fellow "Republican" tea party members shouting the "N" word. It takes courage to change the status-quo. Rep. Lewis displayed such courage during the civil-rights era and is doing so again tomorrow. God bless.

    March 21, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  13. jill

    Pray for our nation. Only God can help us. We are full of evil, loud mouthed idiots and liars....what hate can do.....sad.

    March 21, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  14. bbchicago

    I guess we are finally seeing the true character of the Tea Party Movement.

    March 21, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  15. Winston

    The Tea Party/Fox News viewership is made up mostly of suburban/rural, white, southern, middle-aged people. It was just a matter of time before their deep seated bigotry and homophobia came out.

    March 21, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  16. Hanford Searl Jr.

    ... HEY RePUKES-&-Tea Baggers!!! 2-WARS, $3-TRILLION, 1.5 MILLION dead Iraq children, women-&-men! SHUT-UP-MORONS!!!

    March 21, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  17. Nuttingham

    These people are outright disgrace to humanity. I am not against protesting this bill, but stating racial slurs and demeaning another human being is totally wrong. They should be arrested for making such comtemptous remarks.

    March 21, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  18. Diana

    Shame on these people that cannot be civil during this health care debate. Democrats stand your ground. You are at the cross roads of history and will show the world that the United States takes care of ALL of its people. We will not leave anyone behind and again lead the world in showing how that can be done! "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all"

    March 21, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  19. Reality

    This is the true face of the tea-bagger movement. I went into 5 of there "conferences" or gatherings. When the cameras are not rolling, the vile and bigotry that spews from there mouths is disgusting. They are nothing but a modern day Klan. Healthcare reform means nothing to them. It is all about a black man in a White House. I got into the planning sessions for a few rallys and these people are nothing but bigots. Go to a private meeting, as if you are one of them, and you will hear the truth. When they say they want their country back, they mean back to Selma, 1963.

    March 21, 2010 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  20. Ced

    Unfortunately, America is coming face to face with the "Real America".

    Please somebody defend this latest display.

    I personally know some Tea Party members. The very sad fact is they have a lot of money. I mean a lot. So even if the health care bill passes, they are just fine.

    From where I sit, the Change euphoria is gone and some, not all, but a vast majority are finally realizing that we have a black President and that is not sitting well. Was there a "Tea Party" when the Bush administration steamrolled items through? Nope. Just reserved regret years later. He was a white male and there was no in America dumb enough to go against him. Late-night fodder but no real organized movement. However.....Obama tries to do something good for the people of this country who are hurting and in need and this is the result.

    Communism. Socialism. Really? Sad day.

    Ambitious on Obama administration's part ? Yep.

    Worthy of this response? C'mon America grow up.

    March 21, 2010 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  21. Macleod2012

    To bring out this much anger has to tell you something....if anything that what you are doing is think that one bill took this much time and "persuasion" to pass tells you something...that this is wrong....for one bill to set civil rights back 40 years tells you one thing...that what you are doing is wrong

    March 21, 2010 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  22. Sunny

    Why blame these protestors? They are PATRIOTS! They are what makes this country great! If anything else, these people who yelled the "n" word, called Barney Frank "f#g" and spat on Cleaver should be praised!!!! After all, the poor, the middle class and small businesses DO NOT deserve access or affordable health care. We are angry...We don't need Pelosi, Reid or Obama...These Patriots form part of the highly intelligent, Reagan minded, conservative, tea baggin tapestry of real America. Hail to our Heros Rush, Ingram, Levin and Hannity..Rep. Wilson, praise Bohner, Bush and Cheney...we are your servants...we will never give up our fight against, gays, immigrants, ni#@%rs, al queada and democrats. Long! Just us...! Here's to us!

    March 21, 2010 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  23. Dave

    Lobbbyists have bribed republicans (and some democrats) with money, hookers and vacations to vote against health care reform. These protesters have not even been bribed, just brainwashed. They probably have an average IQ in the low/mid 90's. Republicans rely on an average low IQ among the ignorant masses.

    March 21, 2010 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  24. Kevin H

    The experiences of Representative John Lewis remind those of us who care about civility in this country, if not now, when, if not us, who, if not this, what? I honestly hope that we have pictures of some of these protestors who are so nasty because I want to face them in a few years and I want to ask them how proud they were that they wanted to deny people like me with a chance to be healthy. I want to see these folks and tell them that family members who died of cancer because of greedy insurance companies need not have died – and see how they would feel if their families incurred long term, unsustainable debt. Protesters have now proven that the far right wing has support – from the most vehement racists and bigots in American – enjoy the support folks. See ya next election – signed the Silent, non-vocal, voting majority.

    March 21, 2010 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  25. JP

    That just goes to show the caliber of person that is protesting such a great and prosperous bill. I just can't believe someone could be so ingnorant, but stupidity never ceases to amaze!

    March 21, 2010 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
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