Here’s why this Virginia delegate protested Trump’s presence at Jamestown

A protester interrupted Trump's speech at Jamestown Thursday before being escorted out of the tent. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)
Del. Ibraheem Samirah, D-86th District interrupted  Trump’s speech at Jamestown Thursday before being escorted out of the tent. (Southside Daily/Alexa Doiron)

A Virginia state delegate protested President Donald Trump’s presence during the 400th anniversary of the country’s first representative assembly at the Jamestown Settlement Tuesday.

And he did so while the president was speaking.

“I think it’s loud and clear hate has no home here in Virginia,” said Del. Ibraheem Samirah, D-86th District.

RELATED STORY: ‘Our beloved republic is the envy of the entire world’: Trump visits Jamestown

In a series of tweets following the protest, Samirah, also a Muslim dentist, posted to social media about his reasons for protesting.

“Just a few weeks ago, Trump told four duly elected congresswoman to go home,” Samirah said in a phone interview with WYDaily, adding the “values of democracy has never been at risk” and there is “one person at the center of it.”

Samirah said he felt Trump’s presence at the commemoration was a “dirty cover-up” and the “usage of opportunity” to further Trump’s agenda like the Fourth of July celebration.

“[Jamestown] is essentially illegal immigrants coming to the United States and pursuing life, a better life than what they had and where they came from -– England,” Samirah said.

Samirah said protest was planned to not disrupt the main programming of the commemoration event and the Democratic caucuses had a group discussion as to how to go about protesting Trump’s speech.

“As far as my colleagues, we all agreed before going on we all would act on our uniqueness and our own voice,” Samirah said. “We coordinated it making sure to push back [against Trump’s visit].”

In addition, Samirah said there is “systemic discrimination in the words” as well as the “policies of the current president.”

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican, issued this statement:

“I am disappointed by Delegate Ibraheem Samirah’s disrespectful outburst during the President’s remarks. It was not only inconsistent with common decency, it was also a violation of the rules of the House. Members of the House of Delegates are part of a lineage that goes back 400 years. All Delegates must conduct themselves respectfully, regardless of political differences. It’s a custom and practice dating back to the first meeting, which we are celebrating today.”

Samirah said he was not charged following the incident and while he has read Cox’s statement, he has not had any contact with him.

“I didn’t violate any rules if any I was upholding the rules of free speech in the Constitution and also decorum,” he said. “At the end of the day this was an expression of my voice. There is systemic discrimination in the words as well as the policies of the president.”

When asked about his supposed anti-semitic posts on his Facebook page from five years ago, Samirah would not elaborate on what he originally wrote or why he chose to delete the posts, stating he already sent out “multiple statements” to news outlets.

WYDaily informed Samirah WYDaily did not receive any statement from his office about the comments and Samriah replied he would send a copy.

He has yet to do so.

Gov. Ralph Northam did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Lauren Burke, spokeswoman for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, said she would email WYDaily a statement. She has yet to do so.

The Virginia Democratic Caucus would not comment on Samirah’s demonstration.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.