- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2019

The head of the Republican Party of West Virginia spoke out early Saturday against a “hateful” poster hung in the statehouse connecting Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, to the September 11 terrorist attacks, hours after it prompted a heated argument between lawmakers that resulted in the resignation of the House sergeant-at-arms, Anne Lieberman.

“The West Virginia Republican Party does not approve, condone or support hate speech,” said Melody Potter, the chairwoman of the state GOP.

“Our Party supports freedom of speech, but we do not endorse speech that advances intolerant and hateful views. We have shown that when West Virginians are united, when we respect each other, embrace our differences and focus on moving our state forward what we can accomplish,” Ms. Potted added.

The chairwoman’s remarks came on the heels of a chaotic scene Friday in Charleston, the West Virginia state capital, spurred by a poster displayed during “WV GOP Day” targeting Ms. Omar, a practicing Muslim and the first Somali-American elected to Congress.

The poster showed a photograph of the World Trade Center on fire displayed above a recent picture of Ms. Omar, each overlapped by a different caption.

“Never forget,” said the text placed on the Twin Towers image. “I am the proof you have forgotten,” said the message accompanying Ms. Omar’s photo.

An argument over the poster ensued as soon as the West Virginia House of Delegates convened Friday morning, and Ms. Lieberman, the House sergeant at arms since May 2018, allegedly remarked that “all Muslims are terrorists.” She resigned later in the day.

In a statement early Saturday, Ms. Potter said the signage was not cleared with the state Republican Party prior to being posted.

“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,” she said.

Belinda Biafore, the chairwoman of the West Virginia state Democratic Party, issued a statement Friday evening condemning the poster.

“This isn’t about freedom of speech, this is about hate speech,” said Ms. Biafore. “This display of hatred has no place in the People’s House and this is just the latest display of hate from the Republican majority this legislative session.”

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