Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


Increasing incivility, even violence, as seen in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, often reflects the depths of the red-blue, Republican-Democratic divide.

But it can manifest itself within parties, too, as evidenced at Saturday's 10th Ward DFL nominating convention in Minneapolis. What was to be a choice between incumbent City Council Member Aisha Chughtai and challenger Nasri Warsame devolved into chaos requiring police intervention, with two people receiving medical treatment.

The altercation was caught on video and then caught the country's attention after going viral, showing the world an image of Minnesota on a weekend when the fishing opener is usually the optic defining the state.

"This is embarrassing!" convention chair Sam Doten shouted to delegates in an ineffectual attempt to restore order.

It sure is. And more profoundly, it repels people — including, no doubt, others considering political involvement — from the democratic process itself. Charges and countercharges from each side as to which candidate's supporters deserved blame flared as fast as the tempers at the event, which ended without an endorsement.

It was clear to DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin, however.

"After reviewing video evidence & talking to convention participants it is clear that the assaults and violence at the 10th Ward convention were perpetrated by supporters of Nasri Warsame," Martin tweeted, adding that there was no place in the party "for this type of behavior."

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of this type of behavior in Minneapolis politics. Mayor Jacob Frey and his family have been harassed at their home. In 2021, Council President Andrea Jenkins was held hostage in her car by hostile activists at a Pride event.

And in what should have been a warning about the dangers of intraparty events spiraling into violence, a 2014 DFL precinct caucus between Mohamud Noor and then Rep. Phyllis Kahn had to be abandoned after a fight broke out, leaving an attendee with a concussion.

There have been other incidents in between these higher-profile episodes. (And the aggressive, often ugly online swarms of activists intimidating individuals involved in the political process — or those expressing other viewpoints — should also be condemned.)

Martin tweeted that he would be calling an emergency meeting of the DFL's State Executive Committee "to address the issues of Ward 10" and that he will propose "a bylaw to ban individuals engaged in violent assaults from the DFL Party and will then take immediate action to remove the folks involved in Ward 10."

Such action is warranted and welcome — and cannot be watered down. Indeed, the DFL needs to be as effective at raising standards as it is in winning city elections.

But ultimately, just like the nation's broader breakdown in civil discourse, the solution won't be found solely from top-down institutions. Individuals must resist the social-media siren calls of division and derision, and especially versions of the disgraceful violence at the 10th Ward event. Because while free speech is imperative for democracy, free-for-alls are undermining it.