During a Republican celebratory event at the West Virginia capitol on Friday hostilities rose after a poster was displayed that pictured Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) along with an image of the fiery World Trade Center on 9/11.
The poster was displayed in the capitol’s rotunda during a Republican event called “WV GOP Day,” and read, “‘Never forget’ – you said…” over the Trade Center and “I am the proof you have forgotten” over a photo of Omar.
— (((Mike Pushkin))) (@pushkinforhouse) March 1, 2019
Arguments over the display, according to the Washington Post, led to a physical confrontation that left one staff member injured and led another to resign.
The freshman congresswoman later tweeted about the image writing, “No wonder why I am on the ‘Hitlist’ of a domestic terrorist and ‘Assassinate Ilhan Omar’ is written on my local gas stations. Look no further, the GOP’s anti-Muslim display likening me to a terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them!”
No wonder why I am on the “Hitlist” of a domestic terrorist and “Assassinate Ilhan Omar” is written on my local gas stations.
Look no further, the GOP's anti-Muslim display likening me to a terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them! https://t.co/0ouCaloWqh
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 1, 2019
A Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Mike Pushkin, told the Washington Post, that he objected to the poster when he was made aware of it, “I said, ‘What does she have to do with 9/11?’ ‘It was Islamophobic. I thought it was racist and it was wrong.’”
During the ensuing argument the body’s sergeant at arms was accused of using an Islamophobic slur and resigned. And a doorkeeper sustained an injury, according to the Post.
According to West Virginia Public Radio, Republican Delegate Dianna Graves said, “While I may not agree with everything [the displays in the capitol’s rotunda] that is out there, I do agree that freedom of speech is something that we have to protect, even if we don’t agree with it.”
But then, on Saturday morning, after the news had gone national, West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Melody Potter released a statement distancing the party from the display.
“The West Virginia Republican Party does not approve, condone, or support hate speech,” the statement read. “One of the exhibitors at our West Virginia Republican Party Day at the Capitol displayed a sign that we did not approve, were not aware of before the day started, and we do not support. Upon learning about the sign, we immediately asked this exhibitor to remove the sign.
“Our Party supports freedom of speech, but we do not endorse speech that advances intolerant and hateful views. We have shown that when West Virginians are united, when we respect each other, embrace our differences and focus on moving our state forward what we can accomplish.”