Ilhan Omar confessed to embellishing a story she told to 400 high school students
Updated: Jul 17, 2019
Rep. Ilhan Omar confessed to falsifying a story she shared in front of about 400 students at Richfield High School in Minneapolis.
The anecdote was from Omar's days of working for a Minneapolis city councilman five years ago.
She described a "sweet, old ... African American lady" who got arrested for stealing a $2 loaf of bread to feed her starving 5-year-old granddaughter and spent the weekend in jail.
Omar said she attended the courtroom when the woman was brought in, and yelled, "Bulls---!" when the woman was fined $80 she couldn't pay.
After the congresswoman's speech, for which she was 30 minutes late and cost the students their lunch period, the Washington Post investigated the claim.
"I'm not sure. ... The details might not have all matched, but that's what I remember," the Minnesota Democrat said in an interview. "She might have had a prior [arrest]."
City officials debunked the arrest, saying law enforcement isn't allowed to arrest shoplifters unless it's violent or there's likely further crime.
The typical punishment for shoplifting is a three-hour class.
"I grew up in an extremely unjust society," the former Somali resident said in her speech, "and the only thing that made my family excited about coming to the United States was that the United States was supposed to be the country that guaranteed justice to all. So I feel it necessary for me to speak about that promise that's not kept."
The Washington Post denounced her story, saying it "echoed the plot of Les Miserables."