Concerns for Ilhan Omar’s safety after rally chant
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s attacks on freshmen Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that spurred his supporters to chant “send her back” at a rally Wednesday night, have increased urgent calls for her to have more security.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote a letter Thursday evening requesting the Capitol Police Board hold an “emergency meeting” to examine increased security for lawmakers targeted by the president and his supporters, explaining that “the President’s attacks on Members of Congress have emboldened people to pursue acts of violence.”
“Since last night’s Trump campaign rally, the hashtag #SendHerBack is trending on Twitter with tweets referring to Rep. Omar as a terrorist sympathizer and calls for her deportation despite being a U.S. citizen,” Thompson wrote to the Senate’s Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger.
The letter was the second of two Thompson sent this week to Stenger, who serves as chairman of the police board and oversees security for the Capitol. On Monday, Thompson sent a letter highlighting security concerns after Trump sent a series of racist tweets attacking “the Squad” — Reps. Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. — all freshmen lawmakers and women of color who are critical of his administration.
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Trump suggested that the group should “go back” to where they came from and kept up his attacks throughout the week, accusing the four of “hating America,” — all despite widespread backlash and a resolution in the House that condemned his original tweets as racist.
During his Wednesday night rally, Trump again brought up the group and suggested they “hate our country” and if “they don’t like it, let them leave.” His supporters chanted “send her back” as he mentioned Omar — who was born in Somalia and is a naturalized U.S. citizen who arrived in the country as a refugee at age 12.
On Thursday, the president distanced himself from the chants by blaming supporters and telling reporters that he “wasn’t happy with that message.”
“I disagree with it,” Trump said of the chants.
Thompson in his Monday letter cited previous politically motivated attacks, including the pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and Trump critics in October and man arrested who planned a mass shooting targeting lawmakers.
Thompson said these new attacks from the president “should not be taken lightly” and said, “being proactive in this instance is vital to the safety of not only these targeted Members, but all Members of Congress.”
More: What we know about the ‘send her back’ chants that erupted at Trump’s rally
In April, Trump and other conservatives targeted Omar over her controversial comments about the 9/11 terror attacks, when she said the attacks were “something” done by “some people.” Trump tweeted out a video that included Omar’s remarks repeated along with ominous music, all played over images of the World Trade Center engulfed in flames with New Yorkers running for safety.
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In the aftermath, several people were arrested on federal charges after allegedly threatening to kill her.
Throughout the day Thursday, lawmakers expressed worries about Omar’s safety and the president’s rhetoric.
“His rhetoric is endangering lots of people,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s not just about threats to individual members in office but is about creating this whole environment.”
She said that Trump’s “violent rhetoric” puts “anyone like Ilhan, anyone who believes in the rights of all people, in danger and I think he has a responsibility for preventing that.”
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., told Politico that he was worried.
“It’s crystal clear to me that her life is in imminent danger,” he said. “He has threatened the safety of a member of Congress. That takes this to a whole different level.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries also suggested more security for those being attacked by the president, telling Politico, “we need to make sure that every single member of the House Democratic caucus, particularly those who have been viciously targeted by Donald Trump, including at the rally last night, are safe and have the protection that they need.”