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Ilhan Omar Urges Judge To Use ‘Compassion’ When Sentencing Man Who Threatened To Kill Her

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Due to her faith, her race, and her country of origin, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has often been the target of bigotry and hatred, exacerbated by the President of the United States and his supporters who called for her deportation, despite Omar being an American citizen.

As a result, Omar is frequently the target of death threats. One of the issuers of those threats was 55-year-old Patrick Carlineo, who pleaded guilty this week to threatening Omar’s life.

Carlineo called Omar a “terrorist” and threatened to shoot her.

Congresswoman Omar’s response to the bigotry was an admirable one, however, aligned with her principles regarding incarceration and justice reform.

Carlineo’s crimes carry up to 10 years in prison, but in a letter to District Judge Frank Geraci, Omar called for lenience.

Read her letter to the judge below.

Omar writes:

“But we must ask: who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves?”

“The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion. Punishing the defendant with a lengthy prison sentence or a burdensome financial fine would not rehabilitate him.”

“It would not repair the harm he has caused. It would only increase his anger and resentment.”

She goes on to urge Judge Geraci to choose “restorative justice” over a “punitive approach” before asking him to address the root cause:

“[W]e must address the root causes of these crimes. The desire to commit violence is not inherent in people. People who threaten violence are often themselves the victims of systemic alienation and neglect.”

“They seek violence because they are taught violence. We must address this situtation through community reintegration and social services.”

Omar concluded with a quote from South African President and civil rights hero Nelson Mandela:

“As Nelson Mandela said, ‘People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love’.”

“We must teach the defendant love.”

Twitter users saw Omar’s mercy as a class act.

For comparison, Omar’s colleague and critic, Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), recently wrote a letter to the judge overseeing the sentencing of a protestor who dumped a drink on him.

He demanded the woman serve jail time.

The woman who embarrassed Matt Gaetz—who has a 2008 DUI arrest on his own record for which he received no punishment—was sentenced to 15 days in federal custody.

Carlineo’s sentencing before Geraci is scheduled for Feb. 14, 2020.


Written by Evan Brechtel

Evan Brechtel is a writer and actor living in New York. A Fordham University graduate, he also writes a monthly column for Chosen Magazine and is currently working on a historical fiction novel about New York queer bars over the twentieth century.