WASHINGTON — Leaders of major civil rights organizations condemned Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., on Monday for suggesting in remarks about reparations at a Trump rally over the weekend that descendants of Black slaves are criminals.
"Senator Tuberville’s comments are flat out racist, ignorant and utterly sickening," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement. "His words promote a centuries-old lie about Black people that throughout history have resulted in the most dangerous policies and violent attacks on our community."
Johnson, who noted that the far right has pushed such racist theories, added: "Next time the Senator wants to talk about crime, he should talk about Donald Trump’s hate-fueled rally on January 6, 2021, and the attacks that followed. Perhaps the real criminals are in his orbit."
Speaking at former President Donald Trump's rally Saturday in Minden, Nevada, Tuberville called Democrats "soft on crime" and "pro-crime."
"They want crime. They want crime, because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have," Tuberville told the crowd. "They want reparation because they think the people that do the crime are owed that. Bulls---. They are not owed that."
National Urban League President Marc H. Morial called Tuberville's comments "bigoted" and "stunning" Monday. He said every senator "must make it clear that Tuberville’s repugnant views are unacceptable and must bear no influence on public policy."
"People of conscience can disagree on the best way to achieve economic justice after centuries of slavery, segregation, and discrimination," Morial said in a statement. "Sen. Tuberville has disqualified himself from serious discourse by smearing in the ugliest possible terms those who pursue racial justice and those to whom justice is owed."
Some Democratic lawmakers have expressed support for studying proposals that the federal government issue reparations to Black Americans who are the descendants of slaves. Legislation on that front, however, has stalled on Capitol Hill.
Tuberville, whose lengthy football coaching career included the top job at Auburn University from 1999 to 2008, has served in the Senate since January 2021.
Morial said Tuberville's comments are even more "heartbreaking" given his "decades of coaching Black athletes who entrusted their health, safety and futures to a man who clearly holds them in the lowest contempt."
Tuberville’s Senate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Congressional Republicans have largely been silent about Tuberville’s remarks.
Asked about the comments Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said he wouldn’t say it the same way and would instead be more “polite.”
Pressed about whether Tuberville’s comments crossed a racial line, Bacon said: “I’m not going to say he’s being racist. But I wouldn’t use that language.”