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May 07, 2019

Philly Anti-Defamation League: Pa. politician should apologize for selfie with white supremacist

Rep. Stephanie Borowicz posed for a photo Monday with an alleged member of The American Guard

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Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg Rlibrandi/Wikipedia Commons

The Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.

Philadelphia’s Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday called for an apology from Pennsylvania State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-76th, one day after Borowicz was criticized on social media for taking a selfie with an alleged white supremacist.

The selfie in question was documented on Twitter, primarily by Sean Kitchen, a southeastern Pennsylvania reporter and progressive advocate:

The man next to Borowicz is wearing a shirt that reads “American Guard”, a group the ADL has called “hardcore white supremacists”. The group formed in 2016, according to the ADL, and members and associates of the group have present or past connections to white supremacist groups like the Hammerskins, Aryan Nations, and the Atlantic City Skinheads.

The American Guard’s website says that the group considers its members “nationalists”, but their mission is “without regard to race, religion, culture, or previous political affiliation”. The website also says the group “unapologetically opposes any culture, political philosophy, or religious expression” it finds stands opposite its principles.

“It is irresponsible for state legislators to pose for selfies with white supremacists,” Nancy K. Baron-Baer, ADL Regional Director, said in a statement Tuesday. “ADL can confirm that the individual in the photo is connected to multiple right-wing extremist movements, and there is simply no excuse for anyone in a position of leadership in the Commonwealth to appear to legitimize extremism. Whether or not Representative Borowicz knew who this individual was or what he stood for, she knows now, and should immediately apologize and condemn white supremacy.”

The selfie took place during a pro gun-rights rally at the state Capitol building on Monday.

Borowicz also made headlines in March at the swearing-in of West Philly State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, the first Muslim woman ever elected to serve on the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Borowicz delivered an invocation many, including Johnson-Harrell, found offensive and Islamophobic.

On May 2, Philadelphia City Council condemned Borowicz's invocation, calling it "Islamphobic and inappropriate."

Johnson-Harrell received Islamophobic threats via Facebook from out of state in the days following Borowicz’s invocation.

On Tuesday, Johnson-Harrell took to Twitter to condemn Borowicz’s decision to pose for a picture with the American Guard member:

PhillyVoice has reached out to Borowicz's office for comment, and will update this story when we hear back.

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