Washington: US President-elect Donald Trump harshly responded to civil rights icon John Lewis, calling him "all talk — no action" after Lewis said Trump was not a "legitimate" President, CNN reported.
"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad," Trump tweeted on Saturday.
Trump made the remarks after Lewis told NBC in an interview that the Republican would take office as an illegitimate President, citing the US intelligence community's allegations that Russia interfered in the election to harm his Democratic Party rival, Hillary Clinton.
The 76-year-old Lewis — who spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech — said he would not attend the presidential inauguration for the first time in his 30 years in Congress.
Cornell William Brooks, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), said Trump's remarks were disrespectful and called on him to apologise.
"By disrespecting @repjohnlewis, @realDonaldTrump dishonoured Lewis' sacrifice & demeaned Americans & the rights, he nearly died 4. Apologize," Brooks tweeted, including an image of a bloodied Lewis taken during the Civil Rights Era.
Donna Brazile, the interim head of the Democratic National Committee, denounced Trump's remarks and said at a DNC gathering in Phoenix that Lewis "took action".
"He took action from marching from Selma to Montgomery. He took action in marching toward men wielding clubs across the Pettus Bridge. They fractured his skull because of the colour of his skin. But John Lewis never stopped marching for justice and equality," she said.
Meanwhile, Democratic members of Congress, highlighting Lewis' contributions to the civil rights movement, swiftly condemned Trump.
"Ahead of #MLKday2017, let us remember that many have tried to silence @repjohnlewis over the years. All have failed," tweeted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
California Senator Kamala Harris said Lewis doesn't deserve to be attacked by Trump.
"John Lewis is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement who is fearless in the pursuit of justice and equality. He deserves better than this," she tweeted.
Later, Lewis responded to Trump's comments by saying, "Today, Donald Trump attacked me on Twitter. He said that I'm 'all talk' and 'no action',".
"I've been beaten bloody, tear-gassed, fighting for what's right for America... Sometimes that's what it takes to move our country in the right direction."
He continued: "Some leaders reject decades of progress and want to return to the dark past, when the power of law was used to deny the freedoms protected by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and its Amendments."
"It took massive, well-organised, non-violent dissent and criticism of this great nation and its laws to move towards a greater sense of equality in America."
Lewis is one of an increasing number of Democratic lawmakers who are boycotting Trump's inauguration after learning more about Russia's role in the 2016 election.
Updated Date: Jan 15, 2017 14:34:26 IST