A former Secret Service
agent has detailed racist
abuse directed at Michelle Obama
while she was first lady, as well as her frustration and inability to do anything about it as an assigned protector.
“I couldn't do anything,” Evy Poumpouras
told Insider in an article published Wednesday. “There's freedom of speech in the United States, and even if I personally believe that speech is wrong, the law doesn't give me the authority to take that person's speech away.”
“They could call them names and say whatever they wanted as long as there was no imminent threat of harm,” Poumpouras recalled.
Evy Poumpouras (@evypoumpouras) shared this on Instagram
Poumpouras revealed in her 2020 memoir
"Becoming Bulletproof" how, as the first Black first lady, Obama faced "certain kinds of disparagement that none of her predecessors had ever faced."
She remembered an especially heinous incident:
I was on her protective detail when we were driving to a school to deliver a speech and saw someone on a bridge
holding up a shockingly racist sign directed at her. I remember being outraged — after all, it was part of our job to protect the first family mentally as well as physically — but if the first lady saw the sign, she made no comment.
Obama has frequently spoken out about the racism
she encountered while her husband, former President Barack Obama
, was in the White House
for eight years.
“Knowing that after eight years of working extremely hard for this country, there are still people
who will not see me for who I am because of my skin color,” Obama said in 2017.