Civil rights attorney slams Obama for political speech at John Lewis' funeral

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the funeral service of the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., at Ebenezer Baptist Church on July 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Former U.S. President Barack Obama gave the eulogy for the late Democratic congressman and former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were also in attendance. Rep. Lewis was a civil rights pioneer, contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and helped to organize and address the historic March on Washington in August 1963. | Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty Images

Lifelong Democrat voter and civil rights attorney Leo Terrell criticized former President Barack Obama’s speech at the funeral of civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday.

Terrell, noticeably frustrated by Obama’s speech, claimed there were fallacies in the former president’s remarks on racism and election integrity.  

The setting of the speech, though, was also egregious to Terrell, a former radio host who recently announced that 2020 will be the first time he ever votes for a Republican. He has often appeared on news talk shows to provide political commentary. 

“You’ve got Barack Obama using a house of worship — a funeral — to raise a Democratic campaign speech,” Terrell told Hannity. “What amazes me is that he basically lied on television when he said federal troops were used for peaceful protesters. There’s not a peaceful protester who’s trying to demolish a federal building.”

Terrell decried an analogy Obama used to compare President Donald Trump to George Wallace, the former Alabama governor known for racist and segregationist ideas during the 1940s. Terrell said the analogy was an example of “using the race card.”

“George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators,” Obama said. 

While federal agents have largely been deployed to cities experiencing violence and riots such as Portland, Oregon, the Trump administration was criticized after federal agents used pepper spray and other irritants to clear demonstrators from Lafayette Square in Washington D.C. in June. 

A video surfaced from the clearing operation of a U.S. Park Police officer using a riot shield to attack an Australian news cameraman. National Guard commander Adam DeMarco testified before the U.S. House of Representatives this week that tear gas was used in the clearing operation. 

U.S. Park Police Acting Chief Gregory Monahan told Congress Tuesday that tear gas was not used in the clearing operation but said that officers used other irritants and dispersal agents that include stinger balls, smoke canisters and pepper balls.

In his speech at Lewis’ funeral, Obama also slammed Trump’s displeasure with mail-in voting propositions. Obama said that voter suppression laws have targeted students and minorities. 

Obama admitted that there may be some who might not want him to “dwell” on political matters at a funeral, but said that he is mentioning these issues because “this is a celebration of John's life.”

“John Lewis devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy and what's best in America that we are seeing circulate right now,” the former Illinois senator said. 

Terrell took issue with not only the speech but also how some responses to tragedy are handled differently than others. 

According to Terrell, it is a matter of vilifying black Republicans. 

He mentioned Obama’s silence on the deaths of David Dorn, a black retired officer killed in a riot; black Trump supporter Bernell Trammell, who was shot and killed in Milwaukee; as well as Herman Cain, a black Republican and former presidential candidate who died this week. 

“You got a great man in John Lewis buried today and Herman Cain is being vilified. I’m sick and tired of black Republicans being vilified,” Terrell told Hannity. “We are smart enough to realize we’re off the Democrat plantation and will vote for what’s best for the country.”

Cain was a successful business owner and ran for president in 2000 as well as 2012 after his childhood consisted of difficulty and poverty in the South. His death by coronavirus was touted as a political statement on social media, as he was not in favor of wearing a mask during the pandemic.

In wake of Obama’s comments, nationwide concern on racial equality and the impact of the Black Live Matter movement, Terrell argued that that the movement does not appear to care about “all black lives”.

“Not all black lives matter because there’s a lot of black police officers being killed and there is a lot of black-on-black crime,” Terrell said. “So if you’re going to care about black lives, care about all black lives.”

Terrell said he will vote for Donald Trump in a July 17 interview with Hannity. A vote for Trump would be the first time Terrell has voted Republican in his life, he explained.  

His reasoning was due to his dislike for presumptive Democrat nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden during the Obama presidency. Terrell said Biden was “dishonest, not up-front and has a socialist agenda.” 

He reemphasized his opinion on Thursday. 

“I haven’t received a penny or dime from anyone and I’m voting for Trump because he is the best candidate to win the highest office in the land,” Terrell said. “What’s in the best interest of this country is electing Donald Trump in November.”

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