A convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to determine which candidate would represent the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in the upcoming city council election for Ward 10 nearly descended into violence as some supporters of the challenger stormed the stage and disrupted the proceedings so much that the convention had to be canceled.
Residents of the Ella Baker Global Studies and Humanities Magnet School gathered on Saturday to support one of two candidates, incumbent Aisha Cughtai (elected in 2021) or challenger Nasri Warame. According to the agenda for the convention, Chughtai would address the crowd before Warsame and both candidates would then participate in a Q&A session.
As Chughtai entered the podium to speak, a group of Warsame supporters shouted her down. The Warsame supporters began waving signs and even jumping on the stage. This forced Chughtai to move elsewhere. Warsame supporters paraded on and around the stage, pounding on tables and gesturing threateningly to the Chughtai fans nearby. The chaos continued for a few minutes.
John Edwards is the editor and publisher at Wedge LIVE. He said he was not sure what “triggered the melee” but that people “just spontaneously came to the stage.” He suggested that the language barrier may have been a factor in some of these issues. According to reports, many Somali refugees, who spoke little English, were present that day. Some of the translations given in their native language had caused confusion. Edwards said, “From my point of view, I’m not sure what sparked it, other than the idea that [Warsame’s people] felt they were losing that morning and didn’t really like the way the convention was progressing.”
Chughtai stated that many of her followers were scared by the incident. She said that her supporters “locked themselves up in our hospitality area” to be away from the rapidly escalating, dangerous situation. Chughtai accused Warsame’s supporters of “physically attacking” her supporters.
Bridget Siljander confirmed that she was afraid some of them might die when the Warsame group approached Chughtai on stage. Siljander described the situation as “complete chaos,” and said that “in the moment,” it was like an insurrection.
Ken Martin, the DFL Party’s Chairman, agreed that Warsame was to blame for the incident. Martin’s statement read, “It is obvious that supporters of Nasri Warsame for city council were responsible for the incident.” Martin also apologized to Chughtai, and her supporters, and promised to “remove the people involved” from the DFL Party.
Warsame also released a press release, denying his people’s “sole” responsibility for the chaos. Warsame stated that the MN DFL published an incorrect statement, and did not include the first-hand reports or videos taken by the campaign which showed the violence wasn’t one-sided.
Warsame claimed that one of his campaign staffers had “assaulted” his campaign manager and he was taken to hospital. Police said that a man in his 30s had been taken to Hennepin County Medical Center on the same day. He was treated there for a medical problem. The reports have not stated whether the man was Warsame’s campaign manager.
A woman in her forties was treated at the gymnasium of a school after sustaining a minor injury. No other injuries have been reported. The convention did not result in any arrests.
Sam Doten, convention chair, felt that the chaos had reached a point where he was forced to adjourn prematurely the convention without having settled on a candidate. “This is embarrassing!” Doten shouted at the escalating tension between the two groups. “We’re shutting this down.” “This is no longer safe!”
Jacob Frey, the Minneapolis mayor and a member of the DFL (affiliated with the Democratic Party of America), also commented on the incident. He tweeted that “the behavior we witnessed at yesterday’s Ward 10 Convention was not okay.” “Physical threats, harassment, and intimidation have no place in either our democracy or politics — neither at conventions nor at city council meetings.”