Slam! That’s the sound of White male lawmakers of the Minnesota House of Representatives getting an earful from the House minority leader.
The Huffington Post reports that Melissa Hortman, the state House’s minority leader, shamed her White male colleagues for slipping out the chamber doors when female legislators—especially women of color—deliver speeches from the House floor.
Hortman became ticked off when she noticed that several male legislators disappeared while Rep. Ilhan Omar, the nation’s first Somali-American legislator, gave a speech during a debate on Monday.
The legislative body was discussing a bill that would add harsher penalties for protesters who shut down roadways, according to The Uptake.
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It centered on a 2015 Black Lives Matter protests. Approximately 2,000 demonstrators briefly shutdown Interstate 94 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to protest the string of unarmed Black males killed by police.
In her speech, Omar connected the BLM protesters to the historic 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama. She said the proposed measure would stifle free speech.
With the presence of male lawmakers growing thin during Omar’s remarks, Hortman made a “call of the House,” a motion to bring them back to the floor.
“I hate to break up the 100 percent White male card game in the retiring room, but I think this is an important debate,” she said, according to Uptake.
One of them fired back, demanding an apology:
“I’m a white male,” state Rep. Bob Dettmer said. “I respect everybody. But I really believe the comments that were made by the minority leader were really not appropriate. Minority leader, would you apologize to the body?”
“I have no intention of apologizing. I am so tired of watching Rep. Susan Allen give an amazing speech, Rep. Peggy Flanagan give an amazing speech, watching Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn give an amazing speech, Rep. Rena Moran give the most heartfelt, incredible speech I’ve heard on this House floor, as long as I can remember, watching Rep. Ilhan Omar give an amazing speech… and looking around, to see, where are my colleagues?
“And I went in the retiring room, and I saw where a bunch of my colleagues were. And I’m really tired of watching women of color, in particular, being ignored. So, I’m not sorry.”