A swarm of health care protesters, many holding Tea Party signs, heckled members of Congress with racial epithets and abusive language as the House votes on health care reform.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a “faggot,” causing the surrounding crowd to erupt in laughter. A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said a protester spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a leader of the civil rights movement, was called a “ni**er.”
Although Frank shrugged off the incident, Clyburn was shocked and told reporters that he hadn’t experienced such treatment since leading 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.”
Rep. John Lewis was the first Democrat to leave a meeting of the Ways and Means committee. As he left, he was met by about 100 protesters crying out “Kill the bill!”
Another civil rights icon, Lewis faced the crowd and told them that he’s voting for the bill, to which one protester yelled back at him: “Baby killer!”
House Republicans seemed to feed the anger, telling the menacing crowds to punish Democrats in November if they pass the health care bill.
“This weekend will, I believe, mark the end of the liberal ascendancy in Washington, D.C.,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.).
Fox News’ headline of the Tea Party protest read: Tea Party Activists Make Last Stand Against Health Care Vote.