“Gentlemen, there is no fighting in here…”

Minneapolis’s Ward 10 bisects Lake Bde Maka Spa, formerly known as Lake Calhoun. It includes the Uptown neighborhood running up to the lake as well as the Whittier neighborhood running from Lake Street to Franklin Avenue. It is, you might say in the current lingo, “diverse,” insofar as such diversity is understood to be consistent with one-party rule.

Minneapolis’s one party called a convention to endorse a candidate for the Ward 10 city council at Ella Baker Global Studies & Humanities Magnet School yesterday. Incumbent Aisha Chughtai (the council’s first Pakistani Muslim woman) is opposed by Nasri Warsame (a Somali Muslim man). As I say, it’s a “diverse” ward.

When Chughtai’s supporters took the stage for Chughtai’s speech, Warsame’s supporters advanced towards the stage and began pushing and shoving. It turned into a brawl and Chughtai was prevented from addressing the convention.

The convention was chaired by Sam Doten. Doten is founder and chair of the Twin Cities Democratic Socialist Caucus and a LGBTQ community advocate. As the brawl erupted, Doten instructed the convention: “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the DFL war room!”

Just kidding — I borrowed that from Dr. Strangelove. Doten actually shouted: “This is embarrassing!” He adjourned the convention after his futile plea for order. “We are shutting this down!” he said. “This is no longer safe!” Police were called and the school was cleared out.

Minnesota DFL chairman Ken Martin commented in a press release: “While we are still gathering all of the details of what transpired today, I am extremely disheartened by reports that a fight broke out at the Ward 10 endorsing convention in Minneapolis.” Upon further review, Martin had more to say (below).

The New York Post story on the convention is full of photographs. Reports on the brawl depend on the Wedge Live (John Edwards) video (below). I have adapted some of the narrative accompanying the Wedge Live video in my account above.

The Star Tribune has posted a good story by Andy Mannix. Mannix offers this quote from a statement released by Chughtai:

“Eventually, our supporters locked themselves in our hospitality room, so they would be safe and away from a rapidly escalating and dangerous situation,” [Chughtai] said. “The Warsame campaign followed us off the floor and was only held back by a group of brave volunteers who blocked a hallway while our supporters were able to escape from the locked hospitality room out a back door of the building to safety.”

You know times are tough when you have to escape from the hospitality room.

Mannix pulls a quote from Minneapolis DFL Chair Briana Rose Lee on Twitter that “several DFL volunteers were assaulted” at the convention, including members of the state executive committee.

In an updated statement posted online, Chairman Martin ascribed blame to the Warsame supporters. After reviewing video, Martin commented:

As we learn more about the incident that took place at the Ward 10 endorsing convention, it is clear that the conflict was instigated by supporters of city council candidate Nasri Warsame. Harassment and violence are unacceptable, and we expect candidates and their campaign teams to work hard to curb such behavior when it comes from their supporters, staffers, or volunteers. Warsame and his team took the opposite approach at today’s convention by escalating the situation and encouraging conflict. Reprehensible behavior like this from any DFL Party candidate and campaign will not be tolerated.

I would like to apologize to City Council Member Aisha Chughhtai, her supporters, and her campaign team for the way they were treated at the Ward 10 convention. Our candidates and supporters deserve a safe forum to campaign at, and the Ward 10 convention fell far short of that. Our party will work with local leaders in Minneapolis to ensure future events are not marred by reprehensible conduct.

I say the convention was mostly peaceful.

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