Michelle Obama‘s former Secret Service agent is opening up about her experience working for the former first lady. Evy Poumpouras, who claims she served on the protective divisions for the Obamas, Clintons, and both Bush presidents, revealed that the most challenging parts of her job was her inability to protect Mrs. Obama from racial driven harassment.
Business Insider reported that Poumpouras aired out her frustrations with what was taking place in her 2020 memoir, “Becoming Bulletproof,” writing, “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.”
The agent then recalled a moment when she and the former first lady were on their way to a school to deliver a speech when they spotted “someone on a bridge holding up a shockingly racist sign directed at her.” Poumpouras couldn’t recall whether Mrs. Obama had seen the sign, but “she gave no indication of it.” Meanwhile, Pormpouras said she felt “outraged.”
She told the outlet that there were no guidelines in place when dealing with racism and that she could only do interject if the first lady or president were at risk of facing physical harm. “I could do nothing. 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,” she explained. “When it came to speech, they could call them names. They could say whatever they wanted so long as there was no imminent threat of harm.”
A saving grace may have laid in the fact that organizers of external events could remove folks who were “heckling” the first family, Poumpouras revealed. “I could not step in and say, ‘Hey, don’t say that,'” she said. “But the staff could say, ‘We don’t accept that type of language here. This is our private property. Please leave.’ Only then could someone do something, but as painful as it was, I had to abide by the law.”
In 2017, during the 30th anniversary of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Mrs. Obama opened up about those experiences she endured, including “being compared to an ape.” She added, “Knowing that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.”