They booed black lawmakers wearing Kunta-Kinte clothes who called a school separation bill racist.
I side with the schools wanting out of the system that’s dead-set on siding only with blacks and browns and trans-weirdoes.
Democratic Rep. Greg Porter of Indianapolis, who is Black, was speaking in the Indiana House against a bill allowing a rural, mostly white, St. Joseph County township to leave the South Bend Community Schools, which is about 60% Black or Hispanic, when he called the proposal discriminatory.
Several Republican members said loudly “no” and “stop,” after which Porter, who was wearing traditional African clothing in recognition of Black History Month, left the House meeting room.
The debate continued and Democratic Rep. Vernon Smith of Gary, who is also Black, called the bill racist. Smith also faced boos and some Republican members started leaving the room.
“It’s a sad day because it was a day that we were celebrating Black History month. The Black Caucus was in our African garb,” Smith said.
Smith, who has been a legislator for 30 years, said the Black community in South Bend feels the school annexation bill is a racial issue. Smith said he wanted to address different aspects of the bill, like property tax dollars going to charter and private schools.
Then, Smith said he started to address the racial issue with the bill. And that’s when the boos started.
“The same thing that happened to Rep. Porter happened to me. One representative got up and said that it was emotional for him, so I responded ‘Well, it’s emotional for me. I’ve been the victim of racial discrimination.’ And I gave them all incidents of when that happened to me. That’s the way that ended,” Smith said.
The boos didn’t bother him, Smith said, but what upset him was that “people stood up and tried to stop me from talking.”
“And I wasn’t going to get stopped,” Smith said.
After the meeting, Smith said he went to the restroom, and as he was washing his hands, a Republican colleague — whom he didn’t identify — started calling him a “bully and a coward” and making threats. Smith said he ignored him at first, but then the Republican representative followed him out of the restroom and down the hall into the chambers.
“By then, I had taken enough of it and I started exchanging words back,” Smith said.
A confrontation soon erupted in a hallway between Republican Sean Eberhart of Shelbyville and Democratic Rep. Vanessa Summers of Indianapolis, another Black lawmaker, and they were separated by other legislators.
Summers said she doesn’t remember what was said in the heat of the moment but admitted she “has a mouth” and may have used strong language. She said she was calling out another Republican, though, when Eberhart thought she was talking to him.
“He just went off and got mad and tried to hit me,” Summers told The Indianapolis Star. “I felt in danger for my life.”
Eberhart said he was called a racist and verbally attacked by Summers.
“I was confronted by Vanessa (Summers) and accused of being discriminatory and racist toward people in general,” Eberhart said. “That’s totally not factual. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”
The Republican-dominated House narrowly approved the school district bill on a 52-43 vote as 14 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the proposal.
Republican House Speaker Todd Huston later urged all legislators to show respect for each other and not question the motives of others.
“We’re going to disagree. That’s part of the process,” Huston said. “But we’re going to do it in a respectful way. I’m going to enforce our rules in a more strident manner.”