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Chaos erupts at Minneapolis city council convention as supporters of challenger storm stage, nearly resort to violence: 'I was scared some of us might die'

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Screenshot of Wedge LIVE! YouTube video

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.

On Saturday, hundreds of area residents gathered at the Ella Baker Global Studies and Humanities Magnet School to show their support for one of two candidates: incumbent Aisha Chughtai, elected in 2021, and challenger Nasri Warsame. According to the convention's agenda, Chughtai was supposed to address the crowd first, followed by Warsame, and then both would participate in a question-and-answer session.

However, as Chughtai took the stage to begin speaking, she was quickly interrupted by a swarm of Warsame supporters who shouted her down. They then began to wave signs aggressively, and some even jumped on stage, forcing Chughtai's people to retreat elsewhere. Warsame supporters then paraded about on and in front of the stage, banging on tables and gesturing menacingly at the remaining Chughtai supporters nearby. The chaos continued for several minutes.

Chaos erupts at Minneapolis DFL Ward 10 convention — adjourned, no endorsement in City Council raceyoutu.be

John Edwards, editor and publisher of Wedge LIVE! who covers local Minneapolis politics, said that he wasn't sure what "triggered" the melee but that "[p]eople just kind of spontaneously came forward to the stage." He also suggested that some of the issues may have arisen from a language barrier. Many Somali refugees who speak little English were in attendance that day, and according to reports, some of the language translations they had been given had been confusing. "From my perspective, I don't know what instigated it," Edwards explained, "other than the idea that based on what had happened in the morning, [Warsame's people] thought they were losing and basically didn't like how the convention was going."

Whatever the cause, Chughtai said that the incident has frightened many of her supporters. "Eventually, our supporters locked themselves in our hospitality room, so they would be safe and away from a rapidly escalating and dangerous situation," she said in a statement. Chughtai also accused Warsame's supporters of "physically assaulting" those on her side.

"I was scared some of us might die," confirmed Bridget Siljander, who was on stage with Chughtai when the Warsame group converged on them. Siljander called the situation "complete chaos" and claimed that, "in the moment," it reminded her of an insurrection, KARE11 reported.

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin agreed that Warsame's camp was responsible for the incident. " [I]t is clear that the conflict was instigated by supporters of city council candidate Nasri Warsame," a statement from Martin read in part. "... Reprehensible behavior like this from any DFL Party candidate and campaign will not be tolerated." Martin also apologized to Chughtai and her supporters and promised "to remove the folks involved" in the incident from the party.

Warsame likewise released a statement, denying that his people were "solely" responsible for the chaos. "The MN DFL prematurely published a statement and failed to accurately include first-hand accounts or videos taken by our campaign that shows the violence was not one-sided and rested the blame solely on my campaign," Warsame said.

Warsame also claimed that his campaign manager had "been assaulted by one of the other campaign staff members" and was transported to a hospital. One man in his 30s was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center that day, but was treated for a medical condition, police said. Reports have not indicated whether that man is Warsame's campaign manager.

Another woman in her 40s was also treated for a minor injury at the school gymnasium, but there are no other reports of injuries. No one at the convention was arrested.

Regardless of who was at fault, the chaos was such that convention chair Sam Doten felt compelled to adjourn the convention prematurely without settling on a candidate. "This is embarrassing!" Doten yelled as tensions between the two groups continued to escalate. "We are shutting this down. This is no longer safe!"

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey — also a member of the DFL, which is affiliated with the national Democratic Party — weighed in on the incident as well. "The behavior we saw at yesterday's Ward 10 convention was not okay," he tweeted on Sunday. "Physical intimidation, threats, and harassment have no place in our democracy or our politics — not at conventions, not at city council meetings."

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