CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The sergeant at arms who resigned in Friday’s fallout from an anti-Muslim display at the state Capitol contends she never said “all Muslims are terrorists.”
But the sergeant at arms, an elected position whose main duty is to maintain control, acknowledged exchanging words with delegates over their reaction to the display.
Anne Lieberman posted her view of what happened on her Facebook page, which also identifies her as the state chairwoman of “WV Jews Choose Trump.” She wrote her account in a post titled “Statement to the Media.”
“The vile and repugnant messages I have received from total strangers in response to something I did not say, now compels me to submit this account of what led up to my resignation,” Lieberman wrote.
Lieberman, a former doorkeeper for the House, last may became the first female sergeant at arms.
The official House rules say the sergeant at arms position exists “for the purpose of maintaining order of the Hall of the House, its lobby, galleries and other rooms in the Capitol assigned for its use, and shall exclude from the floor all persons not entitled to the privilege of the same.”
Lieberman’s statement says she found maintaining decorum increasingly difficult on Friday.
“Many of the Delegates, especially some in the Minority, were in a state of aggravation — due first, I believe, to the GOP’s many Trump signs, and later focusing on a particular display which included an image of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center with a photo of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar,” she wrote.
“I had no idea what the poster said; as on most days, I was too busy to look carefully at displays in the Rotunda.”
GOP Day at the Legislature included cutouts of President Donald Trump, “Trump Pence” posters, signs lauding state Republican officials and, among all those, the display that set off a torrent of anger.
Pamphlets described “The Four Stages of Islamic Conquest” and “Readin’, Writin’ and Jihadin’.” A poster included an image of an airplane crashing into the Twin Towers on 9/11 juxtaposed with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a Muslim who is a native of Somalia.
Congresswoman Omar has no connection to the 9/11 attacks.
She has been the subject of criticism for some of her statements. This past week, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., called on Omar to apologize for “a vile, anti-Semitic slur” she made at a town hall event.
Congresswoman Omar contends she is unfairly treated and misrepresented. On Friday, her Twitter account pointed to the incident in West Virginia as an example.
No wonder why I am on the “Hitlist” of a domestic terrorist and “Assassinate Ilhan Omar” is written on my local gas stations.
Look no further, the GOP’s anti-Muslim display likening me to a terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them! https://t.co/0ouCaloWqh
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 1, 2019
As the display in West Virginia’s Capitol created a commotion, Lieberman stated she was summoned there. That’s where she encountered Delegate Michael Angelucci, D-Marion, who was upset.
They had a conversation that, within a few hours, led to Lieberman’s resignation.
“I know for certain that I said — verbatim — that ‘Not all Muslims are terrorists,” but that THOSE (9/11) terrorists WERE all Muslim,’ trying to bring the discussion back to his original complaint,” Lieberman wrote.
“Perhaps he misheard or misunderstood me. Or given his agitation, he may have heard what he expected or wanted to hear.”
Angelucci recounted the interaction differently when he rose to speak in the House of Delegates a few minutes later.
“The sergeant at arms had the nerve to say to us, ‘All Muslims are terrorists.’ That’s beyond shameful,” he said.
“That’s not freedom of speech. That’s hate speech, and it has no place in this House, the people’s house. I am furious, and I don’t want to see her representing the people of this state in this House again.”
Lieberman wrote that she saw none of the discussion because she had gone back to her office, which is just off the Rotunda.
“Seeming to have made things worse rather than better, I secluded myself in my office to consider what had just happened,” she wrote.
Later that afternoon, she was interviewed about the events of the day in the Speaker’s office.
“I explained all that I knew to have happened and offered to resign if it would help diffuse the situation,” Lieberman wrote. “It didn’t take long for my offer to be accepted.”