MILWAUKEE, Wis. — You could see this coming.
On Saturday, during an otherwise joyful celebration of Juneteenth Day in Milwaukee, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson made an appearance at a Republican Party booth.
Johnson told reporters that his experience interacting with attendees had been generally positive, except for "one nasty comment."
However, as more people recognized him, he was drowned out by a chorus of boos. Members of a growing crowd swore at him and said, "We don't want you here."
Last year, the Wisconsin Republican blocked legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday. On Tuesday, he relented, saying, "While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter."
The new federal holiday recalls Union troops arriving in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Texas was the last state with institutional slavery.
When asked what he thought of the boos Saturday, Johnson said: "This is unusual for Wisconsin. Most people in Wisconsin say, 'You are in our prayers; we are praying for you.' ... But you got some people here that are just sort of nasty at some points."
He said the situation was "not how you heal the nation."
"You come down here and try to interact with people and be nice to people. But this isn't very nice, is it?"
One attendee, Robert Agnew, said he thought the reason for the response to the senator was simple. "Ron Johnson's politics are not for us," he said.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Sen. Ron Johnson booed at Milwaukee's Juneteenth Day celebration