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Accusations and bad blood continued Wednesday in the wake of a weekend Minneapolis DFL Party ward convention that descended into chaos.

The campaign of Nasri Warsame — the City Council candidate whose supporters stormed the stage as incumbent Aisha Chughtai prepared to speak at the convention — went on the offensive at a news conference in which campaign officials:

  • Alleged a Chughtai supporter started it all.
  • Accused another City Council member of assault.
  • Claimed the convention was "rigged" from the start, and racially biased against Somalis — the result, they claimed, of DFL Socialists, most of them white, controlling the convention and violating various rules.

All the allegations were vehemently denied by those accused, and local party officials have accused Warsame's campaign manager of sparking the mayhem.

The grievances by supporters of Warsame — who spoke for only three minutes at the hourlong news conference, then left without answering any questions — come as state DFL Party leaders consider sanctions in response to the embarrassing episode. It gained national attention via a blogger's video of the mayhem.

The DFL Party's executive committee, made up of several dozen party officials from across the state, plan to meet Thursday evening in emergency session on the fracas. Party Chair Ken Martin has suggested he might push to ban some of those involved from party involvement.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis police continue to investigate. The incident led to several people seeking medical attention for things ranging from dangerously high blood pressure to an injured shoulder, according to numerous people involved and police reports.

Here are some developments from Wednesday:

No apologies

Neither Warsame nor anyone from his campaign apologized for the behavior of supporters who stormed the stage, flung convention papers, pounded on a desk and, according to Chughtai and party officials, physically assaulted them.

"I do not condone violence," said Warsame, who is running on a campaign message of law and order. "I do not condone intimidation or harassment of any sort and anyone who engaged in the heinous acts on Saturday should be held accountable."

But Abshir Omar, Warsame's campaign manager, pushed back against the idea that his supporters were the aggressors, calling it "patently false" and characterizing it as a racist narrative against Black Africans. Many of Warsame's supporters are Somali immigrants.

Omar also said they felt unfairly excluded by the convention process.

When asked about reports from several witnesses, including two sergeants-at-arms, that Warsame's supporters were aggressive and violent, Omar responded: "At no point during this press conference did I say that there was no bad behavior on both sides."

Warsame's campaign provided no witnesses or video to support a claim made by Omar that a Chughtai supporter started the aggression.

Minneapolis DFL Chair Briana Rose Lee, who was at the convention Saturday, has said Omar was responsible for stoking misunderstanding and mistrust among Warsame supporters, many of whom had never attended a political convention.

Omar, who served as political director on Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign in Iowa, worked as a consultant for Feeding Our Future, the nonprofit alleged by federal authorities to be at the center of a massive pandemic relief fraud. According to the Minnesota Reformer, Omar also worked as deputy director of a nonprofit that ran six food distribution locations. He has not been charged with any crimes.

In response to the claims of the Warsame campaign, Chughtai issued a statement that said in part:

"This convention used the same open and transparent process that the DFL has always used, and was agreed to by both campaigns. Campaigns that are winning and have the support of the people don't violently disrupt the process."

The assault accusation

Omar also accused City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison of punching him in the chest with both fists simultaneously during a moment that was captured on camera, albeit not clearly enough to readily show it. He said he's pressing charges with the city attorney's office.

Ellison called it "a lie" and said the two never had a physical confrontation of any kind.

Ellison texted in response that "I think all available video footage tells the truth of the day — they only further disgrace themselves with silly productions like the one they've put on today."

What about the politics?

Warsame's allegation that the convention was unfair plays on tensions within the DFL. Several senior Minneapolis DFL officials, including several who ran Saturday's convention, support the Democratic Socialists of America and the similarly named Democratic Socialist Caucus, groups that seek to pull the party to the left.

In Minneapolis' current political landscape, Chughtai is the more progressive candidate, while Warsame is running on a moderate law-and-order message. Chughtai is endorsed by the Twin Cities chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which views law enforcement with distrust. Chughtai often votes with a more progressive group of council members to the left of Mayor Jacob Frey and Council President Andrea Jenkins.

According to Warsame, he is on leave as a community service officer at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and is currently enrolled in the police academy in hopes of becoming a sworn police officer. He's running on a message of supporting police amid the spike in violent crime in recent years.