Self-proclaimed tea party demonstrators, infuriated by President Barack Obama’ health care legislation, shouted “nigger” at Georgia Congressman John Lewis as he walked into the U.S. Capitol building on March 20. Lewis is a civil rights icon who was severely beaten during an Alabama march in the 1960s.
According to a report from McClatchy Newspapers, lawmakers said protestors also shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
“They were shouting, sort of harassing,” Lewis said in an interview. “But, it’s OK, 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 protestors were also yelling, “Kill the bill, kill the bill,” and he responded, ‘I’m for the bill, I support the bill, I’m voting for the bill.” Protestors were later heard chanting, “Kill the bill, then kill the nigger.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., told McClatchy Newspapers he was a few yards behind Lewis and clearly heard the word “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.”