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Protest calls for Lott to leave Senate

From Lindy Royce

Lott in his back yard at his home in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Saturday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A small group of African-American activists, ministers and lawyers gathered Saturday afternoon outside the Washington, D.C. home of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, to protest his presence in the Senate.

About 25 protesters attended the demonstration. They said Lott's resignation Friday as Republican leader was not enough and called for him to resign from the Senate completely.

"Just because the man who made the statements has stepped to the side, but not out, doesn't mean the dangers are not there," said Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice.

The statements at issue were made by Lott in early December at a 100th birthday party for Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-South Carolina. At the party, Lott made comments seemingly in praise of Thurmond's candidacy on a segregationist platform. He remarked that the country would be better off today if Thurmond had won the presidency in 1948.

Lott was not at his Washington residence Saturday. He is home in Mississippi for the holidays.

"The people in this neighborhood, they need to know who they have living amongst them. They have a racist person right here on this street," one protester said.

Lott announced Friday he is stepping down as Republican leader in the Senate.

Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, appears to have enough votes to replace Lott, who had been under increasing pressure to step aside because of the furor, which Republicans feared would distract from their congressional agenda and undermine efforts to reach out to minority voters.

Senate Republicans are expected to have a conference call Monday to vote on a new leader -- moving up a meeting that had been scheduled previously for January 6.

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