Minnesota Democrats hold emergency meeting in response to melee at Minneapolis political convention

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Democratic leaders are meeting over Zoom on Thursday evening to discuss the chaos that broke out during a weekend convention to endorse a candidate for a Minneapolis City Council race.

Ken Martin, chair of the state Democratic Party organization, has said he will use the meeting to propose a bylaw change “to ban individuals engaged in violent assaults” from the party and “take immediate action to remove” those involved in Saturday’s disruption.

Video circulating on social media shows that the disturbance began after supporters of incumbent Aisha Chughtai took the stage to seek delegates’ backing for the Ward 10 City Council seat. That sparked an uproar among backers of her challenger, Nasri Warsame. Some jumped on stage, shouting, banging on tables and waving signs. At least two people were injured, and the convention broke up with no endorsement.

Martin has said on Twitter that it was “clear that the conflict was instigated” by Warsame supporters.

Both candidates are Democrats in an overwhelmingly Democratic city when campaigns for party backing are often heated. Warsame, a political newcomer, is a Somali immigrant.

Chughtai is a longtime activist who managed U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 2018 campaign. She is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and has support from some prominent Somali American politicians, including Omar and state Sen. Zaynab Mohamed, and other Muslims, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Chughtai has endorsements from a long list of progressive and labor groups, including the Democratic Socialists of America. Warsame has campaigned on a law-and-order message.

He said at a news conference Wednesday: “I do not condone violence. I do not condone intimidation or harassment of any sort.”

Warsame’s campaign manager, Abshir Omar, said Warsame’s supporters were victims — not perpetrators. Omar said Warsame’s supporters — who are primarily Black, Muslim and immigrants — have been the target of racism.

Chughtai released a statement saying the video does not match the Warsame campaign’s version of events.

“Campaigns that are winning and have the support of the people don’t violently disrupt the process,” she said. “As a campaign and as a movement, we’re on the path to a safer, more just Minneapolis and we look forward to continuing to share that vision with the people of Ward 10.”

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