July 31, 2019
In a speech interrupted by a Muslim lawmaker who heckled him—and boycotted by the Virginia State Democratic legislative caucus, as well as the Black Legislative Caucus—President Donald Trump commemorated the 400th anniversary of American democracy in Jamestown, Virginia, on July 30.
Indeed, as Trump delivered a text intended to celebrate America’s self-rule and to dispel his own image as a racist—following a week in which he had disparaged legislators and activists of color, including The Squad of four progressive female lawmakers in the House; Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), and the Reverend Al Sharpton—a lone protestor rose from the audience to take him to task.
Ibraheem Samirah, a Democrat serving the state’s 86th District in Virginia’s General Assembly—and a son of Palestinian refugees who was separated from his father in middle school when the senior Samirah was not allowed to return to the United States—stood and held up signs that read “deport hate” and “reunite my family.”
Although he was escorted out of the venue, Samirah said in a statement that he was confident his constituents would rather have him protest than “passively accept” Trump’s presence.
Other lawmakers had voiced their disapproval before the speech. The Black Legislative Caucus announced on July 29 that its members would not attend the celebration, saying that Trump’s participation is “antithetical to the principles” for which the group stands. Caucus members instead planned alternative commemorative events in Richmond.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney resigned from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s steering committee for the commemoration event, writing in his resignation letter that Trump “denigrates our democracy” and has no place at the event, the Times reported.
“We will not be attending any part of the commemorative session where Donald Trump is in attendance,” the Virginia House Democrats said on Twitter. “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.
According to a report on the event by The New York Times, as he took questions for over ten minutes following his speech, President Donald Trump appeared not to know that a boycott was in place, saying he would be “shocked” if opponents of color were declining to attend the event.
“If that’s the case, they’re fighting against their people,” Trump said, repeating an unverified claim that his administration had been receiving calls nonstop praising his comments on Baltimore as a vermin- and rat-infested city. “The African-American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy about what a president has done.”
“I think I’m helping myself,” Trump said. “These people are living in hell in Baltimore.”
Research contact: @WashTimes