“So,” he added, “she’s not even using a dog whistle. She’s using a bullhorn to put a target on my back, to the people that she refers to as MAGA people out there who might want to cause harm.”
The two lawmakers got into an animated discussion Wednesday afternoon outside the U.S. Capitol after the Republican-led House blocked an effort by Democrats to expel indicted freshman lawmaker George Santos (R-N.Y.).
Bowman told Greene that instead of voting to refer Santos’s case to the House Ethics Committee, she should have sided with Democrats to oust Santos. Greene responded by saying President Biden was the one who should be out of office. They continued to exchange words as onlookers recorded them.
Black men continue to be characterized as aggressive and threatening when we are passionate and outspoken.
They’re not just using dogwhistles, they’re using bullhorns. It’s dangerous, but we must ALL continue to speak truth to power. https://t.co/6eLZf2F3Cm pic.twitter.com/O29uCdAehC
— Congressman Jamaal Bowman (@RepBowman) May 18, 2023
On Thursday, Greene, who has defended the rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, denied the results of the 2020 election and embraced a host of conspiracy theories, told reporters that Bowman, who is Black, was “yelling” and “shouting” at her during their debate.
Greene, who is White, added: “He has aggressive — his physical mannerisms are aggressive.”
Bowman later said Greene’s characterization plays on racist stereotypes about how racial minorities engage in public discourse.
“This is the same reason why Mike Brown was killed,” he said, referring to the teenager whose 2014 killing by a White police officer in Ferguson, Mo., touched off protests throughout the country. “This is one of the reasons Emmett Till was killed,” he added, referring to the 1955 murder in Mississippi that helped touch off the civil rights movement. “And throughout history, Black men have continued to be characterized as aggressive because, one, because of our skin color but, two, because we happen to be outspoken and passionate about certain issues.”
In response to Greene’s specific accusation about his conduct, Bowman said: “I never invaded her personal space. I was laughing and gregarious the entire time. How is that intimidating? What was intimidating about that?”
He added, “I’m middle school principal energy.”
Greene did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Greene and Bowman have become increasingly visible faces of their party because of their rhetoric.
In 2021, Democrats ejected Greene from two committees following extremist remarks she had made. Greene suggested on social media that some mass killings were staged by supporters of gun control, that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by government forces and that a Jewish cabal had sparked a deadly wildfire with a space beam.
Greene has distanced herself from some of her past rhetoric, and Republicans reinstated her on several committees after they took the House majority in January. Greene’s earlier rebuke and unapologetically confrontational profile has helped cement her status as the face of a new, far-right flank in the Republican Party. She is often a featured speaker at former president Donald Trump’s campaign rallies and has amassed millions of followers across various social media platforms.
Bowman, for his part, has raised his voice — at times, literally — as a way to bring attention to issues such as ending mass killings at schools. In March, he stood outside the House chamber, loudly calling Republicans “cowards” for not passing gun-control legislation to protect students. His goal was to taunt a colleague into debating him, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) spontaneously obliged. The exchange was captured on video.
The debates with Massie and Greene, Bowman said Thursday, were “completely different.” But, he said, Greene “knows what she’s doing when she does that, and unfortunately white supremacists historically, this is what they do. They try to dehumanize Black people, Black skin and the Black humanity so that they can be, you know, more likely to be targeted for harm.”