House Majority Whip James Clyburn was not present during the incident outside of Capitol Hill Saturday, but was made aware of Republican protesters, against Health Care Reform, calling Congressman John Lewis a “Nigger”, calling openly gay Congressman Barney Frank a “Faggot” and spitting on Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. The person who assaulted Congressman Cleaver was arrested and released after Cleaver did not want to press charges.
Clyburn contends it did not end outside the Capitol Building, “Congressman Frank had an exchange with another Republican Congressman as a result of what was said to him. It was very ugly.”
Clyburn believes the protesters Saturday are being funded with transportation and lodging,” some legitimate organizations are funding this kind of activity and they should be called to account for it.”
The South Carolina Congressman says he respects freedom of speech, however; believes the racial epithets spewed Saturday are a heart issue congress can not legislate against.
Georgia Congressman John Lewis issued a statement on the incident describing his weekend encounter as something “reminiscent of what he experienced 45 years ago as a young man marching for freedom for all Americans.”
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee says, “For a protester to spit on a public official and hurl hateful epithets is wrong, it speaks to a deeper motivation that has nothing to do with the issues at hand. No one should fan the flames of hatred nor tolerate this despicable behavior which draws from one of the ugliest periods of American history.”
Congresswoman Lee believes there is a next step, “Our nation needs and deserves a national dialogue on race.”