A Virginia legislator interrupted President Trump as he delivered remarks at an event Tuesday in Jamestown, Va., commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly in America.
“Mr. President, you can’t send us back. Virginia is our home,” shouted State Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, holding up a sign that read “Go back to your corrupted home,” “Deport hate” and “Reunite my family and all shattered by systemic discrimination.”
As Samirah, dressed in a suit and bow tie, stood directly below Trump, who had stopped speaking at the podium, audience members booed and chanted, “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “U.S.A.” before the man was escorted away by police.
“Thank you very much,” Trump said over the chants and then continued his remarks.
“I just disrupted the @realDonaldTrump speech in Jamestown because nobody’s racism and bigotry should be excused for the sake of being polite,” Samirah’s Twitter account read after the interruption. “The man is unfit for office and unfit to partake in a celebration of democracy, representation, and our nation’s history of immigrants.”
“Proud to do my part to show that @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobia isn’t welcome in our Commonwealth #DeportHate,” read a later post. Samirah became the second Muslim American elected to the Virginia General Assembly when he won a special election earlier this year. His campaign was marred by allegations of anti-Semitism over anti-Israel social media posts.
The outburst came amid controversy over Trump’s latest attacks against Democratic lawmakers of color who Trump said should “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came.” The comments, which were condemned by Democrats and commentators as racist and xenophobic, were heightened when Trump supporters at a recent campaign rally chanted “Send her back!” in reference to one of the Democrats, Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Black legislators in Virginia boycotted the event honoring the first convening of the Virginia General Assembly in 1619 after Trump was confirmed to attend, advising the event organizers to “send him back.”
“The current President does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world,” leaders of the Virginia House and Senate Democratic Caucuses said in a statement. “We offer just three words of advice to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation: ‘Send Him Back.’”
Before Tuesday's event, Richmond, Va., Mayor Levar Stoney also spoke against inviting Trump to the ceremony.
“A president who labels those who disagree with him as un-American and ignorantly advocates for duly elected congresswomen, all United States citizens of color, to be sent back to their countries of origin has no place at this commemorative gathering in our Commonwealth this weekend,” Stoney said in a statement last week.
But Virginia’s black lieutenant governor, descended from slaves, Justin Fairfax, said he would attend the event “to proudly show to all in attendance that no national leader can diminish Virginia’s continuing efforts to cast aside its racist past and move forward as a state built on the blended contributions of Native Americans, enslaved Africans, settlers from Europe and later immigrants from across the globe.” The first ship bearing slaves from Africa arrived in Jamestown in August 1619; ceremonies commemorating the “First African Landing” will be held in Hampton, Va., Aug. 23-25.
After his speech Trump tweeted, “Great reception in Jamestown by both REPUBLICANS & DEMOCRATS. Respect for our Country’s incredible Heritage. Thank you!”
While speaking to reporters hours after his speech, Trump criticized Fox News for broadcasting Samirah’s interruption, adding that “the protester didn't look so good to me.”
Samirah responded to the president on Twitter, asking, “What about me ‘didn't look so good’? I wore my favorite bowtie....”
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