WASHINGTON -- A leading voice in the Congressional Black Caucus told supporters last week that Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers are devastating the black community economically and would be happy to see black people "hanging on a tree."
Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), the CBC whip, told attendees at the CBC's Job Tour visit to Miami that the Tea Party is actively taking steps to keep down the black community and other vulnerable populations.
"This is the effort that we're seeing of Jim Crow," Carson said. "Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens."
He went on, "Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree."
An audio and partial video of Carson (who has previously blogged for The Huffington Post) making the remarks first surfaced on Tuesday on Glenn Beck's website, The Blaze. When contacted by The Huffington Post, Carson's office confirmed them and didn't back down, saying they were in response to frustrations felt by many around the country regarding Congress' inability to boost the economy.
"The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities," Carson spokesman Jason Tomcsi said in a statement.
Tomsci specifically pointed to GOP efforts to cut funding for child nutrition, job creation and training, housing assistance and Head Start, a national program that promotes school readiness, as examples of ways the Tea Party agenda hurts vulnerable populations.
"A child without basic nutrition, secure housing, and quality education has no real chance at a meaningful and productive life," he said. "So, yes, the Congressman used strong language because the Tea Party agenda jeopardizes our most vulnerable and leaves them without the ability to improve their economic standing."
UPDATE: Aug. 31, 6:33 p.m. -- Leaders of the nation's largest tea party organization on Wednesday called on Carson to resign over his remarks.
"Rep. Carson should immediately resign from Congress. He is clearly not fit to serve," Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots said in a statement.
"This type of disgusting, hateful rhetoric has no place in our political discourse. At a minimum, he should be removed from leadership in the Congressional Black Caucus, and censured by his colleagues. If they refuse to take these actions, they are sending a clear statement to the American public that it is acceptable for 'leaders' in Congress to wantonly accuse their fellow members and the American public of desiring murder," they wrote.
UPDATE II: Aug. 31, 9:25 p.m. -- Carson said Wednesday that he doesn't regret his comments and doesn't feel he owes anyone an apology.
"I stand on the truth of what I spoke," he told CNN. "My intentions weren't to hurt anyone or any group. I wanted to speak to the issues that concern me and the philosophical issues that concern me as it relates to certain leadership within the tea party organization, not the entire tea party, but certain elements that have concerned me deeply and for quite some time that I think should really re-evaluate what it means to be an American and we shouldn't go along the path of taking America back to the 'good old days' because those days were not good for everyone."