Representative Ilhan Omar has admitted that she might have embellished parts of a story that she told high school students in an effort to highlight racial and economic disparities in the United States.
The Democratic representative from Minnesota recently spoke with hundreds of students at Richfield High School, telling them a story from about five years ago, when she was working as a city councilman in Minneapolis and witnessed an incredible injustice.
She recalled how she saw a “sweet, old…African-American lady” who had been detained for a weekend for stealing a $2 loaf of bread in order to feed her “starving 5-year-old granddaughter,” according to a story in the Washington Post.
She said she cursed loudly when the woman was fined $80 in court for stealing the bread. As she told the students, “I couldn’t control my emotions, because I couldn’t understand how a roomful of educated adults could do something so unjust.”
The Washington Post said that the story bore similarities to the plot of “Les Miserablés” and, even if it was true, was likely embellished. As they explain, “City officials said that police aren’t allowed to arrest people for shoplifting unless there’s a likelihood of violence of further crime. Typically, shoplifters are sentenced to attend a three-hour class.”
Omar allegedly “flubbed some facts” during the telling of the story. She told the newspaper that the woman from her story might not have been quite so innocent after all.
“She might have had a prior [arrest]”, Omar said. “I’m not sure…The details might not have all matched, but that’s what I remember.”
This marks the latest in a string of controversies for Omar since being elected into congress. She is a member of the freshmen progressive Democrats, the most notable of which is Representative Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez, who has clashed with Democratic leaders on several issues.