A former Secret Service agent who helped protect Michelle Obama said she felt bad because she could do nothing to prevent the racial abuse that the former first lady was subjected to routinely.
Evy Poumpouras was an agent in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during both Bush administrations as well as the Clinton and Obama presidencies. She poured her thoughts on her career into her 2020 memoir, Becoming Bulletproof.
Poumpouras indicates Obama was treated differently by a segment of the U.S. population despite her designation as a dignitary.
“As the first Black First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Obama had to withstand certain kinds of disparagement that none of her predecessors ever faced,” Poumpouras penned, according to The Hill. “I was on her protective detail when we were driving to a school to deliver a speech; we passed someone on a bridge holding up a shockingly racist sign directed at her.
“I remember feeling 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 gave no indication of it.”
Even hate speech is protected under the U.S. Constitution, rendering Poumpouras powerless to prevent or stop it.
“I could do nothing,” Poumpouras said. “There’s freedom of speech in the United States, and even if I personally feel that speech is wrong, the law doesn’t give me the power to take that person’s speech away.”