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Ilhan Omar voices support for MLB’s Georgia protest: ‘Apartheid ended in South Africa because of boycotts’

‘We know that boycotts have allowed for justice to be delivered in many spaces’

Louise Hall
Sunday 04 April 2021 19:33 BST
Ilhan Omar compares boycotts over Georgia voter suppression law to those that ended apartheid in South Africa
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Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar has offered her support for boycotts amid controversy over Major League Baseball’s protest in Georgia, saying they had been successful in circumstances such as apartheid in South Africa.

In an interview with CNN the Democratic representative discussed the organisation’s decision to move its All-Star Game out of Georgia, saying that “boycotts have allowed for justice to be delivered in many spaces”.

The league announced in a statement on Friday that it would be moving the game out of Atlanta in response to the passage of a sweeping elections bill in Georgia, which Democrats and voting rights activists have said will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of colour.

Ms Omar voiced support in line with MLB’s decision to boycott the state’s location during the interview with Jake Tapper and argued that boycotting in protest has effected change through history.

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"We know that boycotts have allowed for justice to be delivered in many spaces — the Civil Rights movement was rooted in boycotts, we know that apartheid ended in South Africa because of boycotts,” she said.

She added: “Our hope is that this boycott will result in changes in the law because we understand that when you restrict people’s ability to vote you create a democracy that isn’t fully functioning for all of us.”

Ms Omar concluded: “If we are to continue to be a beacon of hope for all democracies around the world we must stand our ground.”

The discussion comes amid an intensely polarised debate regarding the league’s decision, with Republicans having heavily condemned the boycott by the MLB and protests of other large brands against the law.

Tapper quizzed Ms Omar as to whether she supported the view of prominent Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrahams, who expressed that while she “respected” boycotts, she did not want “to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs.”

In a statement on Friday she said: "I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out.”

Ms Abrahams, who has been widely credited with encouraging and facilitating unprecedented Black voter participation in her state in 2020, has condemned the new voter legislation.

The controversial bill includes sweeping voting restrictions such as limiting the use of ballot drop boxes, cutting the time people have to request an absentee ballot, and setting photo ID requirements for absentee voting.

The legislation is one of a wave of GOP-backed election bills introduced in certain states around the country which come after Donald Trump stoked false fraud claims regarding the 2020 election.

In Georgia, the former president lost by about 12,000 votes in the state, which had long been a Republican stronghold, prompting him to try to undermine the result in the state.

The victories of Georgia Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in runoffs in the state also clinched Democratic control of the Senate.

A number of federal and state government officials have confirmed that they have found no evidence votes in the 2020 presidential election were compromised in any way that would have affected the result.

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