A Minneapolis city councilor has apologized after comments he made placing the blame for the chaotic scenes in the city on Fourth of July on the Somali community drew condemnation.
Ward 3 councilor Michael Rainville made the comments during a gathering at Kramarczuk's in Northeast Minneapolis on Friday.
He was recorded by community news site Wedge Live describing some of the actions being taken by the city to respond to the widespread incidents on Fourth of July, which saw large groups targeting people, vehicles and buildings with fireworks in downtown Minneapolis and at the Stone Arch Bridge.
These measures, he says, include the erection of concrete barriers on some downtown streets to prevent street racing.
He then went on to say that at 1:30 p.m. Friday he would be "going over to a mosque in northeast to meet with Somali elders and tell them that their children can no longer have that kind of behavior" that was seen at the Stone Arch Bridge and in the Mill District, with some in attendance clapping in response.
The comment drew criticism from the Minneapolis DFL, some of Rainville's fellow councilors, and the Council of Islamic-American Relations Minnesota (CAIR-MN).
Later on Friday, Rainville apologized in an email to constituents, saying: "I want to address a comment I made earlier today and apologize. I was trying to convey that we need more support for our youth. But the fact is what I said and the way I said it was not appropriate and I wrongly singled out Somali youth.
"I recognize and acknowledge the hurt and anger my statement caused. I'm sorry."
The Minneapolis DFL condemned Rainville's comments "against our Muslim community," adding: "Racism has no place in Minneapolis. We stand in solidarity with our Muslim neighbors across Minneapolis and in elected office at all levels."
The Minneapolis DFL threatened to remove its endorsement of Rainville if an apology was not forthcoming.
Incidents on Fourth of July included shooting breaking out at Boom Island Park – also in Rainville's ward – where more than 1,000 people were gathered to set off fireworks, as well as large crowds gathering on Stone Arch Bridge and parts of downtown Minneapolis, where people and first responders were also targeted with fireworks.
But few arrests have been made and there's been no indication that the unrest was the result of any one community group.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey did call on all parents and community members to take responsibility for the actions of their children and friends, saying: "If you’re the parents of children that were out last night, you need to know where they are.
"If you have friends that were involved in some of this horrible conduct, you need to be setting them straight."
In the wake of the incidents, Rainville called on Gov. Tim Walz to send the National Guard to Minneapolis.
Walz noted that such a request has to come from the mayor, but he has increased state law enforcement presence from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, BCA, and the State Patrol.