‘We don’t want you here’: Sen. Ron Johnson is booed at Milwaukee’s Juneteenth celebration
By Felicia Sonmez,
Sen. Ron Johnson was booed at Milwaukee’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, with some members of the crowd yelling at the Wisconsin Republican: “We don’t want you here.”
The incident came days after Congress voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Johnson had originally objected to the move on the grounds that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for an additional holiday for federal workers. He relented last week, paving the way for the Senate’s unanimous passage of the bill.
In a statement on the measure Tuesday, Johnson said he supports Juneteenth and noted that resolutions recognizing the significance of the day have passed the Senate unanimously during his time in Congress. But he added: “While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter.”
Juneteenth, which marks the day Texans were told that enslaved people in the state were free, 2½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation, is the first federal holiday created by Congress since 1983. That’s when lawmakers voted to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day after a 15-year fight to commemorate the assassinated civil rights leader.
On Saturday, while speaking with reporters during the Juneteenth celebration in Milwaukee, Johnson was “drowned out by a chorus of boos,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Some members of the crowd swore at him, according to video footage of the event.
One attendee told the Journal Sentinel that members of the crowd voiced their displeasure with the senator because “Ron Johnson’s politics are not for us.”
In an interview with the newspaper, Johnson appeared to have been caught off guard by the boos.
“This is unusual for Wisconsin,” Johnson said. “Most people in Wisconsin say, ‘You are in our prayers; we are praying for you.’ . . . But you got some people here that are just sort of nasty at some points.”
Johnson also called the occasion “a day to celebrate” and told reporters: “Most people are getting really tired of the division.”
Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.