Angry activists who had gathered outside the Capitol to protest health care reform Saturday yelled "ni***r" at a few members of the Congressional Black Caucus,
including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis from Georgia.
Protesters also spat on at least one black lawmaker, and the most high-profile openly gay lawmaker, Rep Barney Frank, was apparently called a "faggot." Rep Emanuel Cleaver said he was spat upon while
walking toward the Capitol. Police arrested the assailant, but Cleaver
decided not to press charges.
A statement from his office read: "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
Democratic leaders expressed shock at the behavior and said it was time for Republicans to publicly condemn the behavior and distance themselves from the protesters. "I
heard people saying things today I've not heard since March 15th, 1960,
when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus," House
Majority Whip James Clyburn said.
After following the "tea party" movement since its inception, one liberal blogger writes that she's "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."
RNC chief Michael Steele and the organizer of theTea Party Express movement have condemned the behavior, calling it "isolated."
I can't believe he didn't press charges?!
That's one of the most disgusting things you can do to someone!