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Democratic Minneapolis City Council candidate says he doesn’t condone violence, days after melee

May 17, 2023, 5:19 PM | Updated: 6:30 pm

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Days after chaos erupted at a Democratic nominating convention for a Minneapolis City Council seat, one of the candidates said he does not condone violence.

Nasri Warsame, a political newcomer and Somali immigrant who is running for the seat currently held by Aisha Chughtai, said Wednesday: “I do not condone violence. I do not condone intimidation or harassment of any sort.”

Saturday’s convention was held to endorse a candidate for the Minneapolis City Council race. Video circulating on social media shows a disturbance happened after supporters of Chughtai took the stage to seek the delegates’ backing for the seat. That sparked an uproar among Warsame’s supporters.

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.

Warsame’s campaign manager, Abshir Omar, said Wednesday that 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 Warsame campaign is asking you to believe their version of events, which are clearly not what we all saw on the videos. This convention used the same open and transparent process that the DFL has always used, and was agreed to by both campaigns.”

Chughtai’s spokesperson, Akhi Menawat, said previously that he didn’t think the dispute had anything to do with ethnicity or race.

Minnesota Democratic leaders are holding an emergency meeting Thursday to determine if rules need to change as a result of the disturbance. Ken Martin, chair of the state Democratic Party organization, has said he would use the meeting to propose a change that would “ban individuals engaged in violent assaults” from the party and “take immediate action to remove the folks involved.”

Both Warsame and Chughtai are Democratic candidates in an overwhelmingly Democratic city where campaigns for party backing are often heated.

Warsame is a political newcomer who is campaigning on a law-and-order message. Chughtai is a longtime activist who managed U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 2018 campaign. She is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and has endorsements from a long list of progressive and labor groups, including the Democratic Socialists of America.

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Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Trisha Ahmed on Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15

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