Del. Ibraheem S. Samirah (D-86) issued a statement today criticizing the actions of law enforcement officers during Sunday night’s protests in Washington, DC, where he said he was among the demonstrators who suffered from the use of tear gas.
The Herndon dentist, whose House district includes a portion of Sterling in Loudoun County, said he joined the protestors to demand justice for George Floyd and an end to racist police violence and brutality.
“I, like many others over the past week, was engaging in peaceful, democratic protest when the police forces who were present escalated the situation. There was a curfew set by Mayor Bowser that was supposed to begin at 11pm. But before that time even came, tear gas and rubber bullets were deployed on the crowd, including myself, and the police moved in on us,” he stated.
Samirah posted several videos on his twitter page, including one of protesters pushing back barriers that had been set up by police around the protest area and another of protesters throwing items on a fire in a downtown street.
Two others show Samirah talking into his camera after being exposed to the tear gas.
“I represent the DC area in the Virginia House of Delegates. Last night, the police tear gassed me anyway,” he wrote on the video post.
“When I was able to identify myself as an elected official, police momentarily backed off. But that’s a privilege that millions of other black folks like me don’t have in the US. It’s a privilege that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others didn’t have,” Samirah said in a press release about the incident.
The delegate also criticized President Donald J. Trump.
“While Americans join together in a historic display of solidarity and compassion, Donald Trump continues to hide behind his racism and encourage law enforcement to threaten, attack and brutalize peaceful demonstrators like me,” he wrote in the press release. “Somehow in the year since the President and Ilast met in Jamestown, his bigotry has gotten even more reprehensible. There’s no question that the President watched with cowardice from the other side of the White House lawn while the pain of our nation was made worse by overzealous police.”
“It should be clear to all that there are deep and systemic issues with racism, brutality, and corruption in our police departments. Until we take a courageous stand for real, tangible change, justice will not be achieved. That’s why I am joining the growing nationwide movement that is calling for the demilitarization of our police and a redirection of funds from police departments to the services folks need now more than ever, like housing, healthcare, education, transportation, and true public safety,” he wrote.“These are certainly unprecedented times and I encourage everyone to keep their protest safe and righteous. As an elected official and member of my community, I make it my duty to continue this struggle until ALL of my constituents can finally feel safe in their own neighborhoods. No justice, no peace.”