Incoming state Rep. Ilhan Omar said in a complaint that a taxicab driver made obscene and rude comments to her during a recent visit to Washington, D.C., a report that offers a fuller account of the incident.
Omar said the driver picked her up from the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C., around 8 p.m. Dec. 6, according to the complaint filed with the district agency that oversees taxi cab companies. She and her sister were traveling to a legislative conference hotel near Gallaudet University, about four miles away.
On the drive to the hotel, Omar said the driver took an unfamiliar route, prompting her to look up directions on her phone, according to the complaint. “I leaned over and made a suggestion about the best route,” she wrote. “ ‘You shut up!’ ” Omar said the driver responded.
After she clarified whom he was speaking to, she said “He started making obscene comments; his behavior was rude, offensive, and very discriminatory,” she wrote. Once they arrived at her destination, she said the driver said “Get out of my (expletive) car!” Omar said she insisted on paying and handed him a payment card.
“As we rushed to grab our belongings he continued to shout at us and he spoke negatively of my dress because we were covered as Muslim women,” Omar wrote. “He said ‘I should take off that thing on your head and see what you have underneath, you ‘ISIS.’ ”
The complaint, obtained this week by the Star Tribune, offers more details into an alleged harassment incident involving a D.C. cabdriver and Omar, a Minneapolis DFLer.
The complaint does not identify the driver. That information was redacted by the agency that released the complaint under a records request.
Omar, the country’s first Somali-American state legislator, said in a post on Facebook and Twitter last week she and her sister endured harassment by a D.C. cabdriver who called her “ISIS” and threatened to remove her hijab.
The company named in the complaint, Hilltop, did not respond to three phone messages and e-mails from the Star Tribune seeking comment. A man who answered the phone Wednesday told a Star Tribune reporter to call back but did not answer subsequent phone calls.
In a statement released by her campaign Monday, Omar said she reported the incident with D.C. Office of Human Rights, as well as the Department of For-Hire Vehicles.
Omar said in the Monday statement that she did not file a police report “because I believe criminalizing hate is not a solution and will only strengthen individual malice. Bigotry is a product of ignorance; by educating people, we will move toward respect and understanding.”
The Star Tribune since last week has unsuccessfully sought an interview with Omar, who later recounted the event on MSNBC in an appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
Omar, 34, is also director of policy at Women Organizing Women Network, a group dedicated to pushing East African women into civic leadership. She faced only nominal Republican opposition in November in a heavily DFL Minneapolis district to win the seat.