There have been allegations of racism and other abusive behavior by Tea Party protesters.On March 16, 2010, at a Tea Party protest at the Ohio offices of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, a counter-protester with Parkinson's disease was berated by one of the protestors and had dollar bills thrown at him with additional protesters also mocking the individual. The man initially denied the incident, but later apologized for his 'shameful' actions
On March 20, 2010, it was reported that protesters against proposed health care legislation used racial and anti-gay slurs. Gay Congressman Barney Frank was called 'homo' and a 'faggot several times.' Several black lawmakers said demonstrators shouted 'the N-word' at them. Congressman André Carson said that as he walked from the Cannon House Office Building with Representative John Lewis and his chief of staff, amid chants of 'Kill the bill' he heard the 'n-word' about fifteen times coming from several places in the crowd: 'One guy, I remember he just rattled it off several times. Then John looks at me and says, 'You know, this reminds me of a different time.' Congressman Emanuel Cleaver said as he walked several yards behind Lewis, he distinctly heard 'nigger', and he was also spat upon by a protester while walking up the stairs of the Cannon Building, although whether the spitting was intentional has been questioned..
Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, who wasn't there at the protests, said the incidents reported by Cleaver, Lewis and Carson were fabricated as part of a plan to annihilate the Tea Party movement by all means necessary and that they never actually happened. He offered to donate $10,000 to the United Negro College Fund if Lewis could provide audio or video footage of the slurs, or pass a lie detector test. The amount was later raised to $100,000 for 'hard evidence.' In addition, the National Tea Party Federation sent a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) denouncing racism and requesting that the CBC supply any evidence of the alleged events at the protest..
Representative Heath Shuler of North Carolina, who is white, backed up his colleagues, telling the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News that he too heard slurs. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, corroborated Lewis' version of events during a confrontation with Breitbart at a Harvard Institute of Politics forum by saying, 'I watched them spit at people, I watched them call John Lewis the n-word. [...] I witnessed it. I saw it in person. That's real evidence.' One of Representative Anthony Weiner’s staffers reported a stream of hostile encounters with tea partiers roaming the halls of Congress. In addition to mockery, protesters left a couple of notes behind. According to the New York Daily News, one letter 'asked what Rahm Emanuel did with Weiner in the shower, in a reference to the mess around ex-Rep Eric Massa. It was signed with a swastika, the staffer said. The other note called the congressman 'Schlomo Weiner.
Kate Zernike, author of Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America, has observed, 'Rather than explain it as a fringe of the movement, which they plausibly might have, they argued that the ugliness had never happened. Wasn't it suspicious, they asked, that there was no video of spitting or slurs, in an age when everyone's cell phone has a camera? It was difficult, if not disingenuous, for the Tea Party groups to try to disown the behavior.' Politicians from both political parties, black conservative activists and columnists have argued that allegations of racism do not reflect the movement as a whole.