Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama is being roundly condemned by prominent Black groups for racist comments he made at a Trump rally in Nevada over the weekend in which he said the descendants of enslaved people were criminals.
"Senator Tuberville's comments are flat out racist, ignorant and utterly sickening," said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. "His words promote a centuries-old lie about Black people that throughout history has resulted in the most dangerous policies and violent attacks on our community.
"We've seen this before from the far-right, and we've seen what they can do when they take power," Johnson added.
Tuberville was speaking at a rally before the former president in Minden, near Lake Tahoe, when he began spouting the “tough on crime” rhetoric that he and his fellow Republicans have seized upon ahead of November's midterm elections. (Note: crime researchers and experts have told BuzzFeed News this political rhetoric doesn't really match up with reality.)
Democrats, Tuberville falsely said, were not simply "soft on crime," but rather "pro-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 reparations because they think the people that do the crime are owed that. Bullshit! They are not owed that."
The crowd at the rally greeted Tuberville's sweeping and unabashed racism with applause.
Reparations refers to the process of compensating the ancestors of enslaved people for the suffering they endured, as well as centuries of the systemic inequality spawned by slavery.
Democrats have no official party position on reparations, although a bill to study the issue received support from a House of Representatives committee last year and has since stalled in Congress.
The NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the US, condemned Tuberville, who is a strong ally of Donald Trump and who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
"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," Johnson of the NAACP said. "Perhaps the real criminals are in his orbit."
The National Urban League, another prominent social justice group advocating for Black people, also denounced Tuberville.
"Even in this era of heightened racial rhetoric, Sen. Tuberville's bigoted comments were stunning,” said Marc Morial, the group's president and CEO. "Every member of the Senate must make it clear that Tuberville's repugnant views are unacceptable and must bear no influence on public policy."
Morial also noted that Tuberville had previously served as a college football coach, most famously at Auburn University in Alabama.
"Tuberville's racial views are even more heartbreaking in light of his decades of coaching Black athletes who entrusted their health, safety, and futures to a man who clearly holds them in the lowest contempt," Morial said.
Representatives from Tuberville's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.