Recall in 2014, she was part of the Somali Muslim brawl that abruptly ended the Democratic caucus.
It’s not often that Minnesota politics goes beyond rhetorical disagreements and erupts into physical violence. But that is exactly what happened on Feb. 4, 2014, when a DFL Party caucus left its site coordinator and district vice chair with a concussion and sprained neck.
The events of last year thrust one of those injured, Ilhan Omar, 32, into the spotlight in a way she would not have chosen; but rather than causing her to rethink her political engagement, they have galvanized her resolve.
Earlier this month, Omar announced her candidacy for Minneapolis House District 60B, the same district where she was attacked — and where she will be going up against the same candidates who faced off in 2014: incumbent Rep. Phyllis Kahn and Mohamud Noor.
She is reluctant to speak about the incident, unhappy with the way it has been depicted as a fight between factions of the Somali community. Her only comment about it is to emphasize that she was there not as an instigator but as a neutral representative of the DFL.
Sounds like she has a guilty conscience.
“People forget that I didn’t support Noor until after the convention,” she said.
She was a neutral, non-instigator until the Somali Muslims brawled, bruising her up, then she suddenly joined the Somali Muslim Noor’s camp?
Born in Somalia in 1982, she and her family fled that country’s civil war when she was 8. They spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States, first moving to Arlington, Virginia, before eventually settling in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis in 1997.
She began to immerse herself in local DFL [Democratic Farmer Labor Party] politics, eventually becoming a senior policy aide to Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson in 2013.
“It was awakening,” she says of her time at City Hall. “I saw the way that policy discussions are had and take shape. How valuable it is to have the right voices at the table, not just advocating, but taking the votes.”
She credits the successes she saw while there — like the repeal of lurking laws as well as passage of the environmentally friendly Green to Go ordinance — to the city’s newest council members. “These changes, this progress was made because we brought in new people and new perspectives, with that, we’re able to have transformative change and we can take on the bigger challenges,” she said.
A Muslim who wants to bring in new people and have transformative change? Sound familiar?
The point could be taken as a statement on Kahn, the longest serving member of the Minnesota Legislature. “At some point we just have to be done with wishing for people to implement the kind of change we need to see,” said Omar.
We meaning Somali Muslims?
The changes she seeks revolve around equality, and the oft-quoted and persistent disparities between Minnesota’s white communities and communities of color.
White = bad, color = good.
For example, she notes that people of color are criminalized at a higher rate than their peers. “When elected, I will work on re-evaluating our sentencing guidelines, invest in restorative justice programs, support restoring the vote, and reallocations of funds from justice to mental health and drug rehabilitation programs.”
“People of color” are not criminalized. They get arrested just like people not of color do. Omar ignores the elephant in the Somali Muslim community: large numbers of Somali Muslims in Minnesota who support Muslim terror groups and leave to wage jihad.
No mention of the mosques that preach hatred and recruit Muslims to go wage jihad, just reactive posturing, blaming the woes of others on race and white priviledge. A real breath of fresh air, no?
Of course getting beyond the rhetoric would be the real challenge. Omar says it’s a matter of agency: “The people who are being impacted need to be in the room to ensure that we’re implementing data-driven change.”
If elected it’s believed she would be the first Muslim, East-African woman elected at the state level in the nation — a milestone the mother of three and current director of policy and initiatives for the Women Organizing Women Network would not take lightly.