DENVER – A state lawmaker said Wednesday she has received threatening e-mails and phone calls since she chastised a colleague for referring to Mexican immigrant workers as "illiterate peasants."
Rep. Kathleen Curry said the threats began after she cut off Rep. Douglas Bruce on Monday during a debate on a bill to help Mexican migrant workers get temporary visas to work on Colorado farms.
Curry, a Democrat from Gunnison, said she reported the threats to the State Patrol. She declined to elaborate on the e-mails, saying "I don't need more threats."
The threats were reported in Wednesday's editions of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
Curry was presiding over the House during Monday's debate when Bruce, a Republican from Colorado Springs, attacked the bill, saying it was about "having more aliens coming into Colorado" from Mexico.
"I would like to have the opportunity to state at the microphone why I don't think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado," he said.
His comment drew an audible gasp from the House.
Curry said "How dare you" and ordered Bruce to leave the podium. Bruce later defended his statement.
He said Wednesday he has received about 900 e-mails from across the country about his comment, and about 95 percent were positive with subject lines such as "You are my hero" and "Tell it like it is."
None were threatening, he said.
Bruce said lawmakers shouldn't have to get police protection because of their views or actions.
"If people made threatening phone calls, they should be arrested," Bruce said.
Assistant House Majority Leader Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, said he also received racist e-mails from across the country, including one that criticized Curry for ordering Bruce from the podium.
"I am disappointed to hear you deprived another state of Colorado representative of his First Amendment rights. How dare YOU!
Another called for Bruce to be expelled, Carroll said.
"It is time for this man to go," the e-mail said.
House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, said the threats were unfortunate.
"No one should be threatened for their political policies," he said.