Rep. Ilhan Omar’s congressional office facade grew more colorful as people walked by her office Friday and posted blue, purple, pink and yellow notes of encouragement in the form of a heart. It’s a show of support after a long week of back-and-forth with President Donald Trump and his supporters, who chanted “send her back” at a rally earlier this week.
As a response to the rally chants and rhetoric from the president widely seen as racist, the anti-war group Code Pink organized a day of solidarity outside the Minnesota Democrat’s office. The group’s organizers were outside the office asking people to sign a note for Omar and gathering notes from those in the House office building cafeterias.
“It’s just another way to ask people to come out in the open and show what we think should be just universal outrage for what the President’s been doing for the crowd that shouted ‘send her home,’” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink. “And for this notion that the four squad members are somehow not as American as anybody else is. In fact, they’re the, I think, epitome of what it is to be an American today because they represent large communities.”
One note on a yellow heart said, “Thanks for standing up for this country and the state of MN!” Another read “I think you have amazing courage. We have your back.” A note on a blue heart read “We stand with you.”
Omar and her fellow-House “squad” Democratic colleagues — Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rep. Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts — have been at the center of attacks from President Trump on Twitter, criticized as “xenophobic” and “racist.”
At the Pitt County, North Carolina, rally this week, people chanted “send her back” after Trump whipped crowd into a frenzy by calling Democrats “socialists” and accusing Omar of “vicious, anti-Semitic screeds.”
Omar fled Somalia as a teen and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. The other women were born in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund told the House Administration Committee that threats against members of Congress are growing. For fiscal year 2018, there were 4,894 cases and so far this year, there are 2,502 cases, a number that is expected to eclipse the previous year, Sund said.
House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, concerned by the increasing threats on members of Congress and Trump’s continued attacks on the four aforementioned members of Congress, sent a letter Thursday to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger.
The letter asks Stenger, chairman of the Capitol Police Board, to hold an emergency meeting to reexamine the board’s approach to analyzing the risk environment, setting thresholds for enhanced security for certain targeted members and evaluating threat streams with law enforcement partners in member districts.
The Mississippi Democrat’s letter reiterates requests he made in a separate letter sent earlier this week, and it also requests a classified readout from the meeting.
Pressley’s communications director, Lina Francis, said the office is fortunate to have a partnership with the Capitol Police, but it is concerned about the danger Trump’s remarks could pose to the congresswoman.
“Given Trump’s prominent role in influencing hate crimes committed by white terrorists, Congresswoman Pressley isn’t shocked by the vast increase in racist and vicious comments directed towards our office,” Francis said. “While we are fortunate to have the partnership of Capitol Police, we are gravely concerned about the safety and health of our immigrant and minority neighbors in the Massachusetts 7th. Trump’s blatantly racist and xenophobic remarks have serious consequences for the equity & justice squad and the Congresswoman will continue to fight for their rights.”
Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar did not comment on the matter.
John Bennet contributed to this report.