The Press

Masked mourners honour Lewis

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Mourners braved both coronaviru­s fears and brutal heat yesterday to pay their respects to the late Rep. John Lewis, the first black lawmaker to lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda.

The crowds were thin and lines nonexisten­t, partially because of high temperatur­es. But those who came said it was important to personally honour a civil rights icon who died just as America was confrontin­g another national reckoning over entrenched racial iniquities.

‘‘He was worth the virus risk and worth every drop of sweat,’’ said Alicia

Patterson, 66, who came from Maryland with three generation­s of her family to observe Lewis’ flag-draped casket. ‘‘He worked hard for all of us, and he deserved this and more.’’

Lewis died July 17 of cancer at the age of 80. The long-serving Georgia congressma­n took part in Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2011 by Barack Obama and is the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

With almost no lines yesterday afternoon, dozens of visitors were able to linger and take pictures outside the Capitol. Many brought umbrellas to block the summer sun. The spectre of the Covid-19 pandemic hung over all aspects of the mourning. In addition to face coverings, which were declared mandatory outdoors by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, yellow dots on the grounds reminded mourners to stand 1.8 metres apart.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, paid their respects on Tuesday, but President Donald Trump said he would not attend. The pair had an openly adversaria­l relationsh­ip: Trump called Lewis’ Atlanta congressio­nal district ‘‘crime-infested’’ while Lewis frequently criticised Trump’s racially divisive tactics, and once questioned his legitimacy as president. – AP

 ?? AP ?? Tonya Jones, of New York, left, bumps elbows with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, as he leaves after viewing the flag-draped casket of Rep. John Lewis, Democrat-Georgia, as he lies in state on the East Front Steps of the Capitol in Washington yesterday.
AP Tonya Jones, of New York, left, bumps elbows with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, as he leaves after viewing the flag-draped casket of Rep. John Lewis, Democrat-Georgia, as he lies in state on the East Front Steps of the Capitol in Washington yesterday.

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