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Palestinian-American state delegate compares police violence against BLM protests to occupied West Bank Open in fullscreen

Gaia Caramazza

Palestinian-American state delegate compares police violence against BLM protests to occupied West Bank

Samirah is best known for disrupting US President Donald Trump’s speech in Jamestown, Virginia. [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 June, 2020

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“I never thought I'd wake up and see the state capitol I write laws in look like the West Bank under occupation.”

Black Lives Matter protesters were faced with rubber bullets, pepper spray, and other weapons used by the Virginia police in the city of Richmond on Monday night, which caused state delegate Ibraheem Samirah to compare the violence to the Palestnian territories in the West Bank.

Samirah, whose grandparents were Palestinian refugees, tweeted a video of protesters engulfed in a cloud of tear-gas on Tuesday captioned: “I never thought I'd wake up one day & see the state capitol I write laws in look like the West Bank under occupation.”

He also criticised the Mayor of Richmond, Levar M. Stoney, for having a lack of “control” over the police deployed on the protesters: “either you've given up on the job of being Richmond's mayor or you don't have control over your police/military. Stop these attacks on your neighbors.”

Hundreds of protesters had set up camp outside Richmond’s city Hall in an effort they coined “Reclamation Square”, demanding defunding of police and an investigation into the lethal police shooting of Marcus-David Peters in 2018.

Samirah, who is a dentist born in the US, calls himself a “second-generation Palestinian refugee.” He is a State Delegate in Virgina’s 86th District, which grants him law-making powers in the lower houses of the bicameral legislative bodies of the state.

He took part in the BLM protests which are in their 25th consecutive day, decrying the kind of force used by Israeli police on Palestinian settlements in the West Bank.

He also participated in the BLM protest and occupation of one of Virginia's main interstate highways on June 14.

After his father was barred from re-entering the US, Samirah was forced to move to Jordan where he spent his youth before returning to the US for his university studies.

Samirah is best known for disrupting US President Donald Trump’s speech in Jamestown, Virginia by calling out “you can't send us back, Virginia is our home!" and subsequently being escorted out by the secret service.

During his campaign for the state House seat Samirah apologised for anti-Israel comments from earlier this decade, saying that while he made them, the fact that they are rising now is a “slander campaign.”

He said he wrote the comments five years ago on Facebook, and says they were the musings of his college mind, which “I sincerely regret and apologize for.”

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