A former Secret Service agent was honored to serve as Michelle Obama’s protector, but one aspect of her job troubled her.
Evy Poumpouras told Insider that she “could do nothing” when witnessing racist comments or signs targeting the former first lady.
Poumpouras served as Mrs. Obama’s Secret Service agent during Michelle and Barack Obama’s time at the White House. She also protected George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush during her 12 years in the secret service, according to Insider.
In her 2020 memoir, “Becoming Bulletproof,” Poumpouras recalled feeling “outraged” when people hurled racist slurs or directed a racist sign at the former first lady.
“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 wrote. “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,” she added.
Poumpouras told Insider there was “no protocol” in place to deal with Americans who expressed their freedom of speech.
“I could do nothing,” she told Insider. “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.”