Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Monday announced she plans to boycott President Trump‘s State of the Union address to Congress at the end of the month, joining a handful of other Democratic lawmakers who are skipping the annual event.
“I’m here on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to say I will not be going to the State of the Union,” Jayapal said in a video posted on social media.
“I think it is absolutely unacceptable to see the racism and the hatred coming out the White House in a way in which this president is fueling the flames of divisiveness across our country,” she added.
She pointed to Trump’s recent controversial remarks in which he reportedly described several nations as “shithole countries” during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform, referring to immigrants from African countries, Haiti and El Salvador.
Jayapal blasted Trump for “demeaning entire countries [by] calling them remarkably vulgar terms.”
The Washington lawmaker joins Democratic Reps. John Lewis (Ga.), Frederica Wilson (Fla.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) and Maxine Waters (Calif.) in skipping the president’s address, with many citing Trump’s recent remarks.
Jayapal said those boycotting the event will host their “own State of Our Union to talk about our opposition to these racist policies that are being put out of the White House and to make sure we put out our own aggressive vision of what our America looks like as we take it back.”
Other Democratic lawmakers have announced they will protest the president’s speech in other ways.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other female Democrats say they plan to wear all black in solidarity with sexual harassment victims to honor the “Me Too” movement.
The White House did not initially deny the “shithole countries” remarks, which were confirmed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), but Trump later took to Twitter on Friday to say he “never” made such comments.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems,” Trump tweeted on Friday.
Critics of the president say his alleged “shithole” remarks serve as proof that Trump harbors racist views, a claim Trump has pushed back against.
“No. I’m not a racist. I’m the least racist person you will ever interview,” Trump told reporters on Sunday.