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After convention chaos, proposed bylaw changes would ban those engaged in violence from Minnesota DFL

Contingent on the bylaws' approval, a DFL committee also voted to permanently disqualify Ward 10 challenger Nasri Warsame from seeking or receiving DFL endorsements.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Democratic leaders met over Zoom on Thursday evening to discuss the chaos that broke out during a weekend convention to endorse a candidate for a Ward 10 Minneapolis City Council race.

Ken Martin, chair of the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party organization, proposed bylaw changes “to ban individuals engaged in violent assaults” from the party and “take immediate action to remove" those involved in Saturday's disruption. 

Ultimately, the DFL State Executive Committee approved multiple new bylaws Thursday. In broad terms, the first would "immediately and permanently disqualify" someone from seeking the DFL's endorsement if they, or their supporters, engaged in or condoned violence. The second would give the DFL the power to remove individuals from elected or appointed positions within the party if they've engaged in violence or otherwise condoned it.  

The changes must still be approved by the DFL's State Central Committee, which is expected to meet in 10 days. 

Contingent on the central committee's approval of the two bylaws, the DFL executive committee also voted Thursday to permanently disqualify Ward 10 challenger Nasri Warsame "from seeking and receiving DFL endorsement or letters of support at any time in the future, for any office."

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, 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.”

Mike Erlandson, the former Minnesota DFL chair from 1999 to 2006, called Saturday's convention "very disappointing."

"That's not reflective, I don't think, of Democrats or Republicans in the state of Minnesota," Erlandson said. "It's a real poor representation of political engagement. It's good to see the state DFL leadership is meeting."

Larry Jacobs, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School, said the Ward 10 convention chaos constitutes an "emergency" for the Minnesota DFL.

"The risk here to the DFL is quite real," Jacobs said. "I think the key thing is the response -- it must be strong, swift, and unequivocal."


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