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Ex-DC police chief: Sen. Johnson comments 'racist'

Former Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey on Thursday became one of the latest people to condemn Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as White House continues to push vaccination effort Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows return to normalcy on Capitol Hill MORE over comments the Wisconsin Republican made regarding rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, explicitly calling the remarks “racist.” 

Ramsey, who also previously served as chief of the Philadelphia Police Department, said during a CNN interview that Johnson is “part of the problem” when it comes to racism in the U.S.

I mean, those comments were racist,” Ramsey said of Johnson. “Now if you ask him, he'll say, 'Oh, no racial overtones at all.' I mean, it's ridiculous. He's part of the problem, but he's not alone.”

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"And it goes beyond just our House and our Senate,” he continued. “The rise in hate crimes in this country, whether it is directed toward Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos, it doesn't matter.” 

“We have to take a stand against it,” he said. “It's just something that can't be tolerated anywhere in this country.” 

“But to hear it come from an elected official, a senator, I mean, that pretty much says it all,” Ramsey said. “He definitely is a person who has no business at all being a member of the United States Senate."

Johnson, during an appearance on a conservative radio show last week, said of the deadly Jan. 6 mob attack at the Capitol that he “might have been a little concerned” if Black Lives Matter or antifa protesters stormed the Capitol as opposed to the mob of former President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE’s supporters. 

Johnson has since defended his remarks, telling Milwaukee-based WISN-AM on Monday that there was “no racism” involved, though fellow lawmakers and other public officials have continued to issue rebukes toward Johnson. 

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On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerCapitol Police watchdog back in spotlight amid security concerns On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July House to consider anti-Asian hate crimes bill, protections for pregnant workers this month MORE (D-Md.) said that Johnson issued “a racist statement — a statement that ought to be deeply troubling to the Republican Party to have a member of the United States Senate, a Republican, reflect such prejudice, such simplification, which mirrored Donald Trump's dealing with immigrants.” 

That same day, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) pointed to Johnson saying during his remarks that he would likely "get in trouble for this" as evidence that the GOP senator knew what he was saying was morally wrong. 

"He knew why he was saying it and knew exactly how the reactions would be, he just didn't care,” Clyburn told CNN’s Don LemonDon Carlton LemonOfficer who responded to Capitol mob urges leaders to recognize 'courage' of law enforcement CNN's Jake Tapper questions giving some GOP leaders airtime CNN's Don Lemon blows up over Santorum remarks MORE late Tuesday. 

Conversations on racism in the U.S. have ramped up in recent days, especially following a series of shootings in Atlanta on Tuesday in which eight people, including six Asian women, were killed. 

While police have not yet specifically named a motive for the attacks, many have connected them to the recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic. Rep. Judy ChuJudy May ChuHouse to consider anti-Asian hate crimes bill, protections for pregnant workers this month Padilla introduces bill to expand California public lands Democrats praise Biden for recognizing Armenian genocide MORE (D-Calif.) blamed Trump himself for stoking anti-Asian rhetoric by referring to COVID-19 with various terms like the “China virus” and “Wuhan virus.”