WATCH: Black State Legislator Speaks Out on Confronting Republican Who Called Colleague ‘Buckwheat’
Colorado State Rep. Leslie Herod spoke out about confronting GOP State Rep. Richard Holtorf moments after he called a colleague “Buckwheat” on the House floor — a comment that Rep. Herod says was directed at her and Rep. David Ortiz.
In an incident that went viral since then, Wednesday’s Colorado House session was interrupted when Holtorf punctuated some of his remarks with a racist aside, telling a colleague “I’m getting there. Don’t worry, Buckwheat. I’m getting there.”
As objections could be heard, Holtorf added “That’s an endearing term, by the way.”
The presiding officer gaveled a recess as Holtorf argued with Rep. Tom Sullivan, and with the audio muted, Rep. Herod could be seen confronting Holtorf at the dais.
Buckwheat was a character in the “Our Gang” film series, and is often used as a shorthand for negative stereotypes about Black people.
Holtorf later returned to address his remark, telling the chamber “I apologize if I’ve offended anybody in any way. It is not my intent, ladies and gentlemen. If anyone would like to talk to me afterwards, I’d be more than happy to visit with them.”
But Holthorf would later tell local Fox station KDVR that “There is always two sides to every story.”
On Friday morning’s edition of CNN’s New Day, anchor John Berman asked Rep. Herod about her confrontation with Holtorf.
Herod told Berman that during the confrontation, “I asked him to leave the well, to get off the floor, and later ask him to acknowledge that when someone says something is offensive or racist, that he stops, he calms down, and he apologizes.”
She went on to add that “to call someone such a pejorative and racially charged word on the House floor is completely unacceptable.”
“I’ve now watched it a dozen times and every time he says it out loud, you just take a step back and go wow,” Berman said, and asked “what it was like to hear that term in the well?”
“It was not surprising, but it was extremely offensive and insulting, and I’ve got to tell you it was in the direction of me and my colleague David Ortiz,” Herod replied. “Representative Holtorf later said that it was at David Ortiz, who is a Latino veteran in a wheelchair. Our first person in wheelchair in the general assembly.”
She added that the incident was “inappropriate, but not unexpected from this representative or other representatives from the other side of the aisle. We at the Black caucus, and I am the chair, have been dealing with racial terms, racial insensitivity on the floor this entire session, and quite frankly it’s got to end. This was the last straw.”
Berman played Holtorf’s later remarks, which Rep. Herod said were “absolutely not” sufficient, and amounted to “excusing” racism.
Watch above via CNN.
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