Biden State of the Union guests include Monterey Park hero, ex-Afghan diplomat By Reuters


© Reuters. Brandon Tsay displays the Metal of Courage award he received for stopping the Monterey Park shooter, at a Lunar New Year ceremony in Alhambra, California, U.S., January 29, 2023. REUTERS/Aude Guerrucci


By Kanishka Singh and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday will feature a guest list that includes the man who disarmed a gunman who fatally shot 11 people in California, a former Afghan ambassador, and the family of Tyre Nichols, who was fatally beaten by Memphis police.

Biden is expected to use the speech, which is delivered during a joint session of Congress, as an unofficial start to the 2024 presidential campaign season, laying out his policy priorities.

Following are some of the guests expected to attend:

* Brandon Tsay: Tsay was called a hero by authorities for disarming a gunman who shot dead 11 people during a celebration of the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California. His actions were praised for preventing further bloodshed.

He was invited by U.S. Representative Judy Chu, a Democrat from California.

* The mother of Tyre Nichols, RowVaughn Wells, and his stepfather, Rodney Wells: Nichols, a Black motorist, died after being beaten by police following a Jan. 7 traffic stop. Five Memphis police officers have been charged with his murder.

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The parents accepted an invitation earlier this week from the Congressional Black Caucus chairman, U.S. Representative Steven Horsford, who is a Democrat.

* Missouri Democrat Cori Bush said she has invited Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown, whose 2014 shooting by a Ferguson police officer helped give birth to the Black Lives Matter movement.

* Former Afghan Ambassador to the United States, Roya Rahmani: Rahmani was Afghanistan’s first female ambassador to the United States, serving in the post from December 2018 until July 2021. The United States completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan in August 2021 after a 20-year war.

House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul invited Rahmani to be his guest. McCaul, a Republican, said he hoped her presence “will send a signal to the women of Afghanistan that they have not been forgotten.”

* Rep. Elise Stefanik announced her State of the Union guest would be Sheriff Jeffrey T. Smith of Fort Plain, New York. In a statement announcing her guest, Stefanik emphasized the issue of crime and criticized President Joe Biden’s policies regarding law enforcement.

* Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she has invited Eugenie Ouedraogo, a nursing student and mother of three, to highlight the national issue of affordable child care.

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* Two Democratic House freshmen have invited parents of two victims of school shootings as their guests.

Rep. Greg Casar, a Texas Democrat, and Rep. Maxwell Frost, a Democrat from Florida, will host Brett Cross, whose son Uziyah García was one of the 19 Uvalde victims in 2022, and Manuel Oliver, the father of Joaquin Oliver, one of 17 victims of the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Fla., respectively.

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