Protesters gather outside Scalise meeting
© Cristina Marcos

Protesters descended outside a meeting between House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and donors a block from the Capitol on Tuesday amid controversy over his speech to a white supremacist group in 2002.

Eleven protesters held up signs saying "Republicans: How's that re-branding going?", "Is this your GOP?" showing Scalise, Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke and a figure wearing a white hood, and "Steve Scalise: 'David Duke Without the Baggage?'" outside the Capitol Hill Club.


The protest was organized by several groups, including the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, People for the American Way and Jewish advocacy group Bend the Arc.

Protesters chanted "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, KKK, go away!" as House Republican lawmakers, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Reps. Sam GravesSamuel (Sam) Bruce GravesBridging the digital divide for rural communities more critical than ever Overnight Energy: Environment takes center stage in House infrastructure plan | Iowans push 2020 candidates on climate | Sanders offers bill on 'forever chemicals' Environment takes center stage in House infrastructure plan MORE (R-Mo.) and Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonNIH begins studying hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as COVID-19 treatment Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlash Lawmakers voice skepticism over Facebook's deepfake ban MORE (R-Ind.) walked into the Capitol Hill Club. None of the lawmakers acknowledged the protesters as they walked past with stony facial expressions.

"We're making sure they feel the discomfort," said Bend the Arc's Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, who helped organize the event.

Scalise himself did not make an appearance at the protest.

The protesters urged Scalise to resign his leadership position or at least show "concrete action" that he opposes racism, such as meeting with civil rights leaders. Some also expressed hope that protesting outside meetings with donors will discourage fundraising for the GOP.

"I hope it discourages donors from supporting the GOP. I think that there are serious doubts about John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerPelosi, Trump slide further into the muck The partisan divide on crisis aid Congress must continue to move online MORE's leadership qualities that he isn't asking this gentleman to step down," said Tighe Barry, a member of Code Pink who held a sign in the shape of a pink heart that read, "KKK + GOP love made in hell."

Barry doesn't buy Scalise's claims that he didn't know he was speaking to a white supremacist group. The majority whip blames poor vetting by an overwhelmed state legislature staff.

"There's no way he didn't know what he was doing," Barry said. "Insulting the intelligence of the American public is beyond the pale."

The protest was held only hours after it came to light that Scalise voted against a resolution apologizing for slavery while serving as a Louisiana state legislator. Scalise also had voted against a resolution making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a state holiday.