Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar admitted the story she told hundreds of high school students highlighting racism and economic inequality may not have been accurate.
Appearing before a crowd of Richfield High School students, Omar recalled how five years prior, she was working for a Minneapolis city councilman and was tasked with documenting problems with the courts.
There, she recalled encountering a “sweet, old . . . African American lady” who had been arrested for stealing a $2 loaf of bread to feed her “starving 5-year-old granddaughter.”
After spending the weekend in jail, the woman was led into the courtroom and fined $80 — a penalty she couldn’t pay. “I couldn’t control my emotions,” Omar continued, “because I couldn’t understand how a roomful of educated adults could do something so unjust.”
“Bulls---!” she recalled yelling in the courtroom. (Washington Post)
The story was highlighted by The Washington Post, which said it was remarkably similar to the plot of Les Miserables.
“If true, it is also probably embellished,” the paper noted. “City officials said that police aren’t allowed to arrest people for shoplifting unless there’s a likelihood of violence or further crime. Typically, shoplifters are sentenced to attend a three-hour class.”
Omar then admitted that she may have gotten some facts wrong about the story.
“She might have had a prior [arrest],” the Minnesota Democrat said. “I’m not sure. . . . The details might not have all matched, but that’s what I remember.”
Just like for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it seems it was more important to her to be morally right than factually correct.