Live

Watch CBSN Live

Anti-Muslim poster at West Virginia GOP Day links Ilhan Omar to 9/11

Poster links Ilhan Omar to 9/11

The chairwoman of the West Virginia GOP said Saturday the party does not condone an anti-Muslim poster displayed at the state's Capitol during a Republican event that linked U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The poster featured a picture of planes flying into the World Trade Center with the phrase "never forget, you said" and then under it, a picture of Omar with the words "I am proof you have forgotten."

Omar, who represents Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, tweeted about the poster: "No wonder why I am on the 'Hitlist' of a domestic terrorist and 'Assassinate Ilhan Omar' is written on my local gas stations." Omar is Somali-American and wears a hijab.

The booth at WVGOP Day, which was called "Republicans Take the Rotunda," also featured a book titled "Readin', Writin', and Jihadin' The Islamization of America Public Schools" and pamphlets titled "Islam in a Nutshell The Muslim Brotherhood," "Interfaith Dialogue or Deception" and "The Four Stages of Islamic Conquest." Not far away were cardboard cutouts of President Donald Trump, signs for "Trump Pence" and displays featuring West Virginia Republicans.

Chairwoman Melody Potter issued a statement Saturday, according to Huntington, West Virginia CBS affiliate WOWK-TV. "The West Virginia Republican Party does not approve, condone, or support hate speech," the statement said. "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."

Additionally, a Democratic representative, Delegate Mike Caputo, faces possible punishment after kicking in a door in anger and hurting someone on the other side.

"I'm the one who kicked the door open. That's how angry I was. I went over to that poster and I said it was a racist poster," Caputo told West Virginia MetroNews. "I apologize for my anger. I don't like getting this way. I'm very angry today."

Delegate Mike Angelucci alleged the House sergeant at arms called all Muslims terrorists in an argument over the poster. "That's not freedom of speech," Angelucci said. "That's hate speech, and it has no place in this House. I don't want to see her representing the people of this state in this House again."

west-virginia-capitol-omar-poster-2019-03-02.png
A poster at a booth at WVGOP Day event "Republicans at the Rotunda."  WWOK-TV

In the evening session, the House clerk read a letter of resignation from Sergeant at Arms Anne Lieberman.

Angelucci's speech was one of several emotional speeches on the House floor. Republican Speaker Roger Hanshaw criticized that they had allowed "national level politics to become a cancer on our state, to become a cancer on our Legislature, to invade our chamber in a way that frankly makes me ashamed."

He later issued a statement "unequivocally" rejecting "hate in all forms."

Another Republican delegate, Dianna Graves, spoke on the floor to say that "while I may not agree with everything out there, I do agree that freedom of speech is something we have to protect." She also criticized the angry reactions, saying "we have to remember that our actions are supposed to be representing our districts back home, and that's not how people want us to act."

The event was organized by the state Republican party, not the Republican-led House of Delegates.