Virginia Democratic lawmakers said Friday they will boycott an upcoming ceremony to mark the 400th anniversary of representative democracy in America if President Trump attends, urging organizers to "Send Him Back."
The July 30 event will be held in Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English colony, and will mark the founding of the House of Burgesses, which was the first representative legislative assembly in America. It is part of a weeklong celebration of the state's colonial past — including the first arrival of African slaves in the former British colonies.
Virginia's House and Senate Democratic leadership said in a statement that they "will not be attending any part of the commemorative session where Donald Trump is in attendance."
"The current President does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world," they added before ending the statement with "Send Him Back," a reference to the "send her back" chant repeatedly shouted by Trump supporters at a July 17 rally in Greenville, N.C. The crowd began the chant after Trump criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
The chant came after Trump targeted four Congresswomen of color -- Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Omar -- over the weekend. He tweeted that they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came, then come back and show us how it is done" in response to their criticism of him.
Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley were born in the United States. Omar was born in Somalia and is a U.S. citizen.
Trump's remarks and the chant at his rally have elicited a firestorm of controversy, with critics saying he revived racist troupes used to put minorities down. Trump tried distancing himself from the chant Thursday, saying he was "was not happy" with it.
"I was not happy with it, I disagree with it, but again I didn't say that, they did,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked about the controversial moment.
In a rebuke of the president, the Democratic-led House voted Tuesday to condemn his tweets as "racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color." Most Republicans have refused to reign Trump in over the comments.
The invitation to Trump to attend the Virginia event was extended by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and two Republican state lawmakers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was also invited to attend but declined.
Event organizer American Evolution said the White House has not made an announcement regarding the president's plans. However, the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper reported Friday that Trump did plan to attend the event.