Minnesota DFL committee perplexed and in disarray after chaotic convention, ultimately gives initial nod to banning violent individuals. Bursting with uncertainty and confusion, the committee takes action to mitigate further turmoil.
On Friday May 19, 2023, shocking news emerged from Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) State Central Committee endorsing convention for a Minneapolis City Council seat. Apparently, the melee that ensued at the event was so violent that it forced the DFL to reconsider its policies. A brawl broke out over nominations which resulted in at least two people getting injured. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chair Ken Martin gave interviews at the DFL election night party at the Intercontinental Hotel in St. Paul on Nov. 8 where he disclosed that the MN Democratic Party will review the attendees involved and may even expel them. According to Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune via AP 2022, Martin called the incident “unacceptable.”
Video footage circulating on social media shows that the chaos started after supporters of incumbent Aisha Chughtai took the stage to seek delegates’ backing for the Ward 10 City Council seat. This sparked an uproar among supporters of her challenger, Nasri Warsame, who allegedly incited the melee. Some jumped on stage, shouting, banging on tables, and waving signs. The convention eventually broke up with no endorsement. The situation further went downhill when Martin tweeted that the altercation was instigated by Warsame supporters. According to Martin, some mistakes were made, but “none of those mistakes, big or small justify a few bad actors from the Warsame campaign taking things into their own hands and inciting, encouraging and participating in violence against other DFL participants.”
After the incident, the executive committee of Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer Labor Party voted in favor of two bylaws to ban individuals who have “engaged in, incited, or consciously condoned physical assault, threats of violence, or violent acts” from party activities. Pending final approval of those bylaws, the committee has also decided to disqualify Warsame permanently from seeking and receiving DFL endorsement or letters of support for any future office. However, Martin clarified that this does not mean Warsame cannot run for office, but if he does, he will not receive support from the DFL Party. Warsame did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Associated Press.
Chughtai is a longtime activist who managed US 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. Meanwhile, Warsame, a political newcomer, campaigned on a law-and-order message. At a news conference on Wednesday, Warsame stated that he “did not condone violence, intimidation, or harassment of any sort.”
Before Thursday’s closed-door session, Warsame’s campaign manager, Abshir Omar, told the executive committee that he supported Martin’s condemnation of the violence. However, he was disheartened by statements that blamed Warsame supporters, saying that party officials never contacted the campaign to get their side of the story. Samuel Doten, who chaired Saturday’s convention, told the committee that the chaos unfolded due to the actions of about five to 10 people and that it was not representative of all of Warsame’s supporters. He urged the committee to avoid disenfranchising the Somali community from participating in the process. Chughtai released a statement on Wednesday, saying that 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.”