The Potluck

Nasri Warsame campaign manager accuses Minneapolis Council Member Ellison of assault; Ellison says untrue

By: - May 17, 2023 6:17 pm

Abshir Omar and Feeding Our Future Executive Director Aimee Bock talk to a KSTP reporter outside the Minnesota Department of Education office in Roseville, where they were part of a June 2021 protest to pressure the state to applications for food distribution sites. Bock said nonprofits such as Tasho, where Omar was deputy director, could feed more children if MDE would approve their application. KSTP Screenshot

The campaign manager for a Minneapolis City Council candidate accused City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison of assaulting him during a melee Saturday at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsement convention.

Abshir Omar, the campaign manager for Nasri Warsame, said during a Wednesday press conference that Ellison assaulted him, and that he’s pursuing the matter with authorities, according to Dave Orrick of the Star Tribune.

MPD spokesman Garrett Parten said he was not aware of any charges pending, but that type of assault would be investigated by the city attorney’s office. Normally, the police investigate assaults, not prosecutors. The city attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ellison said in a Tuesday interview that Omar’s allegation is “totally erroneous,” and that he’s mulling a defamation suit against Omar.

“It’s an outright fabrication,” he said.

Omar has not returned a phone call seeking comment.

The Ward 10 endorsing convention devolved into chaos Saturday when Warsame supporters took over the stage as City Council Member Aisha Chughtai was preparing to give a speech. They began shouting, jeering and pushing toward the stage, prompting Chughtai’s supporters to take cover in her hospitality room.

The convention was shut down and police were called. Chughtai said over a dozen supporters were assaulted, while Warsame claimed on Twitter that his campaign manager, Omar, was assaulted.

Ellison said there was “no interaction that could even be interpreted that way.” The only time the two were near each other, he said, is when Ellison walked over to a staffer and volunteer in a corner near Omar.

Ellison volunteered for Chughtai, and his older brother was a delegate for her. Ellison can be seen on some videos of the event. Ellison said when the “craziness started popping off” a group of Chughtai’s supporters ended up outside, and someone came up to him and said the police were looking for him.

“I was super confused,” he said.

Ellison said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara showed up at the convention and talked to him, saying he’d review camera footage of the convention. Ellison said police didn’t take a statement from him. He said police interviewed several other people who were around during the only moment Ellison was near Omar. Ellison says those people backed up his story to police, that Ellison didn’t touch or interact with Omar. 

As of Tuesday night, Ellison had not heard from MPD about Omar’s allegation.

At one point during the fracas, Ellison heard someone repeatedly saying “f*** you” behind him, but when he turned around, Omar was walking away from him.

“They must feel that they need me to generate whatever narrative they’re trying to generate,” he said.

He is the son of Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Omar is a former key aide to Bernie Sanders’ Iowa presidential campaign who went on to work as a consultant for Feeding Our Future, a nonprofit that federal prosecutors say was at the center of the nation’s biggest pandemic relief program fraud. 

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.