Ibraheem Samirah: My protest energized people

By Brad Swanson:

One week after disrupting a speech by Pres. Trump, although the headlines have faded from national news media, Ibraheem Samirah feels vindicated – and ready for more action.

In an interview with The Blue View, the Virginia state delegate (D- 86) acknowledged criticism of his protest, from some Democrats as well as Republicans, but insisted that “most people feel energized” by his actions. The Democratic Party “has lost energy since Trump got elected. This type of leadership” – exemplified by his protest – “is greatly needed. Now it feels like we can do better.”

Samirah, 27, said Democratic critics “have been attacking me in secret because they feel weak” in the face of growing strength from the progressive wing of the party that Samirah identifies with. “They don’t know how to absorb that energy” flowing from the progressives. “They are used to being in the minority and don’t understand that Virginia has changed – demographically and politically.”

His own constituency, centered in Herndon, was  “very supportive” of his protest, said Samirah.  “The saying ‘All politics is local’ is at the core of what I am doing. I’ve managed to bring headlines home, and I am honored by that.”

Samirah added,  “Lots of change is happening on the ground in Fairfax County,” he said. “I’m a byproduct of that.”

When he returns to the general assembly next year – he is running unopposed in the November election – Samirah wants to work for the overthrow of “the Virginia Way,” a tradition in Richmond of civility and collegiality among legislators that he believes has been used to stifle major reform.

Instead, Samirah wants to establish  “the New Virginia Way” that will tackle the systematic discrimination that Samirah sees at the root of many critical issues like health care coverage and cost, opioid abuse, and environmental degradation.

Although Samirah joined the general assembly – in February following a special election — too late to introduce legislation in the last session, he said he is readying a “massive policy proposal” leading with healthcare for the next session beginning in January 2020.

As a reminder,  Samirah interrupted Trump, held a sign reading  “Deport Hate,”  and was escorted out by the Secret Service as the president tried to delivered a speech in Jamestown on July 30 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Virginia Colony’s representative assembly founding.  The incident drew national media attention.


Brad Swanson is the editor of The Blue View. He can be contacted at newsletter@fairfaxdemocrats.org


Main photo: AP Photo/Steve Helber