Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday rallied around Rep. Joyce Beatty, the group’s chair, after she accused a Republican congressman of physically and verbally harassing her.
Beatty said she asked Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., to wear a mask as the two were boarding a train in the U.S. Capitol complex. In response, she said, Rogers poked her in the back and demanded she get on the train. Beatty said when she asked him not to touch her, Rogers told her to “kiss my ass.”
Video shared online showed Beatty, an Ohio Democrat, confronting her colleague as they exited the train.
”I’m a member of Congress like you, and I’m a woman,” Beatty can be heard saying. “You will not disrespect me.”
In a show of solidarity, caucus members held a press conference on the Capitol steps Tuesday afternoon to denounce Rogers’ actions.
“I will not give Hal Rogers a pass,” Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., said, adding that “his racist, inappropriate behavior against Joyce Beatty is totally unacceptable. And we will not tolerate it.”
Other Black Democrats, including Reps. Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri said the incident fits a pattern of harassment aimed at Black legislators.
Rogers issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying his words “were not acceptable,” and that he’d met with Beatty in private to apologize. Note: He’s yet to address her claim that he poked her.
Nonetheless, Beatty accepted her colleague’s apology, saying it was a “high profile insult that demanded a high profile response.”
GOP members of Congress have criticized Covid-19 safety measures since the pandemic began, with some going as far as refusing to don masks on the House floor, as has been required.
Rogers may have seen Tuesday’s encounter as an opportunity to advance their anti-scientific cause, literally, on the back of a Black woman, but he quickly discovered Beatty — and the Congressional Black Caucus — aren’t to be played with.
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