3.21.2010

Teabaggers Chant 'Nigger at John Lewis; Scream "Faggot" at Barney Frank; Spit on Emanuel Cleaver; Mock Anthony "Schlomo Weiner" (UPDATED)

Teabagging racists chanted 'Nigger' 15 times at civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis, as they spit on Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.

In a separate incident, inside the capital building, Teabagging homophobes screamed "Faggot" and Congressman Barney Frank.

Teabagging anti-Semites mocked Congressman Anthony "Schlomo Weiner."

Teabagger even brought signs threatening gun violence if health care passes.

Here is the firsthand account by Congressmen John Lewis & Emanuel Cleaver via McClatchy:

"They were shouting, sort of harassing," Lewis said. "But, it's okay, I've faced this before. It reminded me of the 60s. It was a lot of downright hate and anger and people being downright mean."

Lewis said he was leaving the Cannon office building to walk to the Capitol to vote when protesters shouted "Kill the bill, kill the bill," Lewis said.

"I said 'I'm for the bill, I support the bill, I'm voting for the bill'," Lewis said.

A colleague who was accompanying Lewis said people in the crowd responded by saying "Kill the bill, then the n-word."

"It surprised me that people are so mean and we can't engage in a civil dialogue and debate," Lewis said.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said he was a few yards behind Lewis and distinctly heard "nigger."

"It was a chorus," Cleaver said. "In a way, I feel sorry for those people who are doing this nasty stuff - they're being whipped up. I decided I wouldn't be angry with any of them."

Cleaver's office said later in a statement that he'd also been spat upon and that Capitol Police had arrested his assailant. The statement praised the police, who Cleaver said escorted the members of Congress into the Capitol past the demonstrators.

"The man who spat on the congressman was arrested, but the congressman has chosen not to press charges," the statement said.

"This is not the first time the Congressman has been called the 'n' word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans," the statement said. "That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling and spitting."

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According to Rep. Andre Carson, they actually chanted 'Nigger' 15 times (via MSNBC):
The motorcade that carried Obama to Capitol Hill to whip up support for the bill drove past crowds waving signs that read "Stop the spending" and "Get your hands out of my pocketbook and health care." Many booed and thrust their thumbs down as Obama rode by.

As police held demonstrators back to clear areas for lawmakers outside the Capitol Obama's speech, some protesters jeered and chanted at the officers, "You work for us."

Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., told a reporter that as he left the Cannon House Office Building with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a leader of the civil rights era, some among the crowd chanted "the N-word, the N-word, 15 times." Both Carson and Lewis are black, and Lewis spokeswoman Brenda Jones also said that it occurred.

"It was like going into the time machine with John Lewis," said Carson, a large former police officer who said he wasn't frightened but worried about the 70-year-old Lewis, who is twice his age. "He said it reminded him of another time."

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Rep. Emanuel Cleaver's office released the following statement (via Sam Stein):
For many of the members of the CBC, like John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver who worked in the civil rights movement, and for Mr. Frank who has struggled in the cause of equality, this is not the first time they have been spit on during turbulent times.

This afternoon, the Congressman was walking into the Capitol to vote, when one protester spat on him. The Congressman would like to thank the US Capitol Police officer who quickly escorted the others Members and him into the Capitol, and defused the tense situation with professionalism and care. After all the Members were safe, a full report was taken and the matter was handled by the US Capitol Police. The man who spat on the Congressman was arrested, but the Congressman has chosen not to press charges. He has left the matter with the Capitol Police.

This is not the first time the Congressman has been called the "n" word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans. That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling and spitting. He looks forward to taking a historic vote on health care reform legislation tomorrow, for the residents of the Fifth District of Missouri and for all Americans. He believes deeply that tomorrow's vote is, in fact, a vote for equality and to secure health care as a right for all. Our nation has a history of struggling each time we expand rights. Today's protests are no different, but the Congressman believes this is worth fighting for.

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Cleaver has decided NOT to press charges: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., won't press charges after being spat on by Capitol Hill protester
WASHINGTON (AP) — A congressman who was spat on by a protestor on Capitol Hill says he is declining to press charges, but turns out the Capitol Police say they made no arrests.

Missouri Democrat Emanuel Cleaver was making his way through a group of angry protestors when the incident occurred. It was one of several ugly incidents in a day of protests against President Barack Obama's health care overhaul measure, which faces a House vote on Sunday.

Cleaver, who is black, was also one of several lawmakers who faced racial epithets as they walked to the Capitol to vote. Sgt. Kimberly Schneider of the U.S. Capitol Police said in an e-mail later: "We did not make any arrests today."
UPDATE I: Politico reports on the spitting incident as well: Cleaver spat on:
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) was spat on by a protester as he entered the Capitol to vote this afternoon. It was the third incident today where a lawmaker was disrespected by an anti-reform protester. Both Reps. John Lewis, a civil rights giant, and Barney Frank, who is gay, were the subject of racial and homophobic epithets.

The man who spat on Cleaver was arrested, but Cleaver did not press charges. Cleaver spokesman Danny Rotert said:

This is not the first time the Congressman has been called the "n" word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans. That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling and spitting.

He looks forward to taking a historic vote on health care reform legislation tomorrow, for the residents of the Fifth District of Missouri and for all Americans. He believes deeply that tomorrow's vote is, in fact, a vote for equality and to secure health care as a right for all. Our nation has a history of struggling each time we expand rights. Today's protests are no different, but the Congressman believes this is worth fighting for.

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Sam Stein also got a statement from Clyburn:

Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.

"It was absolutely shocking to me," Clyburn told the Huffington Post. "Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday... I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins... And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus."

"It doesn't make me nervous as all," the congressman said, when asked how the mob-like atmosphere made him feel. "In fact, as I said to one heckler, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate, so they better go somewhere else."

Asked if he wanted an apology from the group of Republican lawmakers who had addressed the crowd and, in many ways, played on their worst fears of health care legislation, the Democratic Party, and the president, Clyburn replied:

"A lot of us have been saying for a long time that much of this, much of this is not about health care a all. And I think a lot of those people today demonstrated that this is not about health care... it is about trying to extend a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful."

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Luke Russert tweeted this quote from Congressman James Clyburn:

Clyburn: I heard people saying things today I've not heard since Mar 15th, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus.

TPM got this quote from House Majority Whip James Clyburn:
"This is incredible," House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) told reporters of the slurs. "It's shocking to me." He said he hadn't heard such vitriol since March 15, 1960 when he was protesting segregation laws that forced him to sit in the back of buses. "A lot of us have been saying for a long time that much of this, much of this, is not about health care at all," Clyburn said. "I think a lot of those people today demonstrated this is not about health care."

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The NY times Has more: Spitting and Slurs Directed at Lawmakers

As does the Village Voice: Tea Partiers Drop N Bombs, Anti-gay Slur, and Spit on Democratic Lawmakers at Capitol Hill Protest

Congressmen John Lewis & Emanuel Cleaver weren't the only one's attacked with bigoted slurs. Teabaggers scream "faggot" at Congressman Barney Frank as he made his way from one capitol building to another (via TPM):
Early this afternoon, standing outside a Democratic whip meeting in the Longworth House office building, I watched Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) make his way out the door, en route to the neighboring Rayburn building. As he rounded the corner toward the exit, wading through a huge crowd of tea partiers and other health care protesters, an elderly white man screamed "Barney, you faggot"--a line that caused dozens of his confederates to erupt in laughter.

After that incident, Capitol police threatened to expel the protesters from the building, but were outnumbered and quickly overwhelmed. Tea party protesters equipped with high-end video cameras were summoned to film the encounter and the officers ultimately relented.

After the caucus meeting, TPMDC's Evan McMorris-Santoro caught up with Frank, who reflected on the incident.

"I'm disappointed at a unwillingness to be just civil," Frank said. "[T]he objection to the health care bill has become a proxy for other sentiments."

"Obviously there are perfectly reasonable people that are against this, but the people out there today on the whole--many of them were hateful and abusive," Frank added.

Asked by TPMDC whether today's protesters were more hateful than at other rallies, Frank took issue with party leaders for aligning themselves with the movement.

I do think the leaders of the movement, and this was true of some of the Republicans last year, that they think they are benefiting from this rancor. I mean there are a couple who--you know, Michele Bachmann's rhetoric is inflamatory as well as wholly baseless. And I think there are people there, a few that encourage it.

"If this was my cause, and I saw this angry group yelling and shouting and being so abusive to people, I would ask them to please stop it," Frank concluded. "I think they do more harm than good."

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CNN's Dana Bash witnessed the Barney Frank incident and seemed genuinely upset by it:
NBC's Shawna Thomas got this Rep. Frank's reaction (via Daily Kos):

"The Republican leadership is making a mistake not doing more to disassociate from this. ... It's a mob mentality that doesn't work politically. ...

"The only problem I have with this... They all said 'You should quit. You should quit. We're going to defeat you. At some point... I'd like to retire. As long as I think it might make some of those people happy, I can never retire. I may have to work forever as long as they're out there."

Rep. Tim Ryan ripped into these hate mongers incidents on the House floor shortly after news of the events (via AmericaBlog):
One hell of a statement from Rep. Tim Ryan about the Teabagger protesters in Washington on Saturday calling gay congressman Barney Frank a "faggot" (the crowd of teabagger onlookers reportedly laughed), called African-American congressman, and civil rights hero, John Lewis a "nigger," and then spitting on a second black congressman, Emanuel Cleaver.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer Condemns Inflammatory Behavior at Health Reform Protest:
Washington, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement tonight after learning that Members of Congress were subjected to racist and inflammatory behavior at today's health reform protest:

"Today's protests against health insurance reform saw a rash of despicable, inflammatory behavior, much of it directed at minority Members of Congress. According to reports, anti-reform protestors spat on Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, yelled a sexual slur at Rep. Barney Frank, and addressed my dear friend, Rep. John Lewis, with a racial slur that he has sadly heard far too many times. On the one hand, I am saddened that America's debate on health care--which could have been a national conversation of substance and respect--has degenerated to the point of such anger and incivility. But on the other, I know that every step toward a more just America has aroused similar hate in its own time; and I know that John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement, has learned to wear the worst slurs as a badge of honor.

"America always has room for open and spirited debate, and the hateful actions of some should not cast doubt on the good motives of the majority, on both sides of this argument. But Members of Congress and opinion leaders ought to come to terms with their responsibility for inciting the tone and actions we saw today. A debate that began with false fears of forced euthanasia has ended in a truly ugly scene. It is incumbent on all of us to do better next time."

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Here's what Salon.com's Joan Walsh had to say: Too much tea party racism: As protesters call Dem leaders "nigger" and "faggot," it's time for Republicans to denounce them. So far, none have

So I'm having a hard time tonight trying to believe almost uniformly white tea partiers are anything other than a racist, right-wing reaction to the election of an African American president who brings with him feminists and gays (even if he doesn't do as much for them as they would ideally like). I'm having a hard time seeing the tea partiers as anything other than the spawn of George Wallace racism – the movement Pat Buchanan bragged to me that Richard Nixon made his own. Of course, in that same "Hardball" segment, Buchanan denounced me for condescending to and "demonizing" the tea partiers. I still find that rich: I grew up in lower middle class Long Island, with a first-generation Irish father, going to public schools and universities, while the wealthy Buchanan grew up in Washington D.C. with professionals as parents and attended Georgetown University. How is he the supposed working class troubadour while I'm somehow emblematic of the pointy-headed liberal elite?

Democrats are lame about fighting stupid class-based slurs like that, which is part of why this health care fight has dragged on and become so bitter. But I think a lot of Democrats were horrified by the ugliness they saw today, and I'm hoping that helps pass health care reform on Sunday.

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It wouldn't be a true KKK rally without Jews being attacked along with the Niggers & Faggots (via Daily Kos):
From NY Daily News (H/T: StepLeftStepForward):

A staffer in Rep. Anthony Weiner’s office reported a stream of hostile encounters with tea partiers roaming the halls of Congress. The less harmful stuff was mockery. But they left a couple of notes behind. One asked what Rahm Emanuel did with Weiner in the shower, in a reference to mess around ex-Rep Eric Massa. It was signed with a swastika, the staffer said. The other note called the congressman "Schlomo Weiner," among other hate-filled words.

Oh, and let's not leave out this: Tea Party sign threatens gun violence if health care passes (via TPM):
Tea Party activists have gathered on Capitol Hill today for a “Code Red” rally against health care reform. Speakers at the event included Republican Reps. Steve King (IA), Michele Bachmann (MN), and Mike Pence (IN). The gathering was organized by Tea Party Profiteer organizations like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. ThinkProgress attended today’s rally and spotted a sign threatening violence if health care passes. The sign reads: “Warning: If Brown can’t stop it, a Browning can,” referring to Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and a Browning firearm:
GOP = Teabbaggers = Racists, Homophobes & anti-Semites. Period.

UPDATE II: Video of some of the verbal abuse (via ThinkProgress):


It's a shame we don't have judges to force things like this here: Skinheads Sentenced to Work at Holocaust Museum
In Argentina, two skinheads were convicted of vandalizing a synagogue and other buildings with anti-Semitic graffiti. They were sentenced to 100 hours of community service at a soup kitchen, but a second part of their punishment has made headlines. They also were sentenced to work as janitors for fifty hours in Buenos Aires' Holocaust museum and will have to participate in "educational and cultural" activities offered by the museum.

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UPDATE III:

BLAME THE VICTIMS... GOP Rep. Nunes Excuses Racist, Homophobic Tea Partier Slurs As A Response To ‘Totalitarian Tactics’ (via Think Progress):
This morning on C-Span’s Washington Journal, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) justified the disturbing racist and homophobic epitaphs that angry tea baggers hurled yesterday at Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), and other House Democrats. Nunes insisted that everyone has a right to “smear” whoever they want and that the tea baggers’ behavior was understandable given the “crazy totalitarian tactics” that he alleges Democrats are engaged in:



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UPDATE IV: On a side note...

While this didn't happen during yesterday's protest, Texas Rep. Ciro Rodriguez was called "wetback" at one of his townhall meetings this week.
Rep Ciro Rodriguez Called “Wetback” By Anti-Reform Protestor

Rep Ciro Rodriguez has confided to colleages that he was hammered by ethnic slurs by people opposed to reform passing, one of those colleagues tells me.

Rep March Kaptur told me in the hallway today that Rodriguez privately told her he’d been called “some names” back in his district. She confirmed that they were ethnic slurs, but declined to elaborate.

[snip]

Update: Rodriguez’s spokesperson, Rebeca Chapa, gets in touch to say that he was slammed as a “wetback” by an anti-reform protestor at a town meeting this week.

And another opponent called Rodriguez’ home and told the family member who answered to “go back to Mexico.”

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We have now covered all the bigoted sides of this teabagging hate fest. Gay, Jews, Blacks & Latinos. Bravo GOP! Bravo!

I guess we technically could have squeezed in anti-Muslim rhetoric into this quadfecta. Does anyone know how Rep. Keith Ellison fair yesterday?

UPDATE V:

Nico Pitney just posted this incredible video of Jesse Jackson confronting teabaggers (and it was filmed by Sam Stein!):
Jesse Jackson confronts Tea Partiers


HuffPost's Sam Stein filmed the video above of Jesse Jackson confronting a mass of Tea Party protesters outside of the Capitol.

'Get a real job, you commie,' one man yelled. 'Father another child out of wedlock while you're at it,' said another. And in an especially bizarre moment, a black Tea Party protester used a bullhorn to question whether Jackson was there when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

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