ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis praised socialism and said the Tea Party was a “bowel movement” filled with racists in a speech to a left-wing youth group, a new video shows.
The edited two-minute video surfaced on the Verum Serum blog Wednesday as a federal appeals court reversed a lower court ruling and temporarily upheld a congressional ban on funding the faltering community activist group.
The comments by Lewis came during a March 25 speech to the winter conference of the Young Democratic Socialists, which is the youth arm of the radical Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is closely tied to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, an 80-plus member group of left-wing Democratic lawmakers.
President Obama worked for ACORN’s Project Vote affiliate, trained ACORN organizers and represented ACORN as a lawyer.
Although ACORN leaders typically refuse to be labeled as socialists because they realize the term carries with it a negative connotation in American culture, Lewis openly embraced socialism.
“First of all let me just say any group that says, ‘I’m young, I’m democratic, and I’m a socialist,’ is alright with me,” Lewis said.
Lewis then seemed to predict that America would soon enter a period of possibly violent upheaval.
“Right now we are living in a time which is going to dwarf the McCarthy era,” she said. “It is going to dwarf the internments during World War II. We are right now in a time that is going to dwarf the era of Jim Crow and segregation.”
WATCH BERTHA LEWIS’ THOUGHTS ON THE TEA PARTY
Lewis told the audience unnamed forces are “coming after you.” They are “going to be brutal and repressive. They’ve already shown it to you,” she said. “Organize. Get out into the street. You really have got to circle the wagons. This is not rhetoric or hyperbole. This is real.”
Lewis said to applause that the Tea Party movement, a grassroots movement against big government, was a “bowel movement in my estimation” that is associated with “racism.”
Meanwhile, ACORN lost a round in court after the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals temporarily reinstated a congressional ban on federal funding of the advocacy group.
A three-judge panel slapped a stay on a ruling by federal judge Nina Gershon of the Eastern District of New York who ruled the funding ban was an unconstitutional bill of attainder that punished ACORN without a trial. The Department of Justice filed the appeal that led to the ruling.
Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said the ruling reversed Gershon’s “attempt to legislate from the bench.” Congress has “the constitutional right to deny an organization the benefit of taxpayer dollars,” he said.
The appeals panel gave the parties to the lawsuit until May 24 to file briefs on the case. Oral arguments are expected soon after.
Outside the appellate court hearing, Lewis told reporters ACORN was barely alive. “We’re still alive. We’re limping along. We’re on life support,” she said.
Although ACORN previously said it planned to dissolve its national structure on April 1, the group continues to operate.
As recently as last week, ACORN sent out an e-mail soliciting funds from its supporters.
The ACORN empire of activism remains in flux.
At least a dozen state chapters have disaffiliated themselves and incorporated under new names. The largest of the state chapters, California, has morphed into a new entity called Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.