New Orleans congressman calls Steve King a ‘white supremacist’ after Katrina comments

Cedric Richmond slams Iowa congressman after he contrasts Katrina victims with Iowans suffering from flooding

Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond did not mince words Thursday, quickly dubbing Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King a white supremacist for his comments about Hurricane Katrina. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond did not mince words Thursday, quickly dubbing Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King a white supremacist for his comments about Hurricane Katrina. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 22, 2019 at 7:56am

The Democratic congressman who represents much of New Orleans condemned Rep. Steve King as a white supremacist for belittling Hurricane Katrina victims Thursday.

“My heart goes out to all Iowans. Though it unsettles me that [King] would dare compare them to the countless victims of Katrina, many of whom lost their lives,” Rep. Cedric Richmond  said in a tweet. “When people show you who they are, believe them. Steve King is a white supremacist and I won’t stand for it.” 

Richmond’s tweet referred to comments King made at a town hall in Charter Oak, Iowa, on Thursday contrasting the people in his district hit by recent flooding to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

Watch: Steve King explodes when pressed about white supremacist comments

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“I saw that from the air and from the ground and went back and did what we could to help those folks down there,” King said of the four trips he made to New Orleans in the wake of the hurricane. “But here’s what FEMA tells me: ‘We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody’s looking around saying, who’s gonna help me, who’s gonna help me?’”

“They’re just always gratified when they come and see Iowans take care of each other, so that’s a point of pride that spreads across the country,” King said.

Critics quickly condemned the comments for insulting the victims of a deadly national disaster while amplifying racist tropes about African-Americans and government aid.

King’s district in Iowa is 95 percent white, while about 67 percent of the population of the city of New Orleans was black when Katrina hit, the Advocate reported.

The comments were first reported by the Huffington Post.

While Richmond called for King to be held accountable for his latest racist rhetoric, it is unclear whether the House will take up further action against the Iowa congressman.

King has for years faced scrutiny for comments perceived as racist and xenophobic. That scrutiny grew more intense after the 4th District Republican was quoted in the New York Times in January as having said, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

King has said those comments were taken out of context.

House Republican leaders subsequently stripped King of all committee assignments. But a motion to formally censure him on the House floor fizzled.

It wasn’t just Democrats who criticized King — House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who represents the 1st District in the New Orleans suburbs, condemned King’s remarks as “absurd and offensive,” but did not directly address their use of a racist trope.

“His comments about Katrina victims are absurd and offensive, and are a complete contradiction to the strength and resilience the people of New Orleans demonstrated to the entire nation in the wake of the total devastation they experienced,” Scalise told The Advocate.