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A prominent Minneapolis community leader who is currently running for Congress has deleted a tweet that appeared to make light of a child's 2020 drowning.

Don Samuels, a former city council member for north Minneapolis who is now a local activist and CEO of the nonprofit MicroGrants, announced last week he is challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar for her 5th Congressional District seat. On March 9, shortly after news of his decision spread, vice-chair of the Minneapolis DFL Briana Rose Lee (who has previously canvassed for Omar) sent out a tweet directed at Samuels.

She called him "a man with such poor judgment that he literally is the person responsible for a child drowning and dying while he watched from the shore. If you can't trust him to babysit, how can you trust him with an entire district?"

The now-deleted tweet from Samuels. 

The now-deleted tweet from Samuels. 

Lee is referring to the 2020 death of Isaac Childress III. The 6-year-old drowned in the Mississippi River off of Boom Island, while on a community biking trip with Samuels, his wife Sondra Hollinger-Samuels, and four other children. You can read more about what happened via the Sahan Journal.

Don Samuels, on Monday night (five days after Lee's tweet), replied, writing: "Can't swim but can govern."

Critics immediately began to question Samuels' response.

Samuels walked back his comment and deleted the tweet not quite two hours after posting it, writing in a follow-up he "became defensive about a remark from my opponent’s staffer about the most devastating day in our lives." 

He continued: "Twitter isn’t the medium for that conversation & I capably showed why. I’m sorry."

Samuels, a Democrat, has focused his early campaign on public safety. He disagrees with the slogan "Defund the police," he said in his announcement, adding he prefers "an approach that embraces both justice and accountability."

Samuels was also a vocal opponent of the 2021 ballot question that proposed replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, and went so far as to fight the language of the question in court.

When Isaac drowned in August of 2020, neither of the Samuels' were identified publicly as being the two adults at the scene. Both were leading the children on a bike ride around the neighborhood when they decided to go to Boom Island.

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As reported by Becky Dernbach in the Sahan Journal last fall, a DNR water accident report cited "inadequate supervision" as one of the likely factors in the Isaac's death. Sondra was the only person in the group that day who could swim, but she gave the kids permission to put their feet in the water off of the small island. Neither she nor Don asked any parents or guardians if their children could go in the water while on the excursion.

Isaac and another child went out too far and were swept up. Sondra jumped in and managed to rescue the other child, but could not get a hold of Isaac, according to the report. Don, who cannot swim, was stuck watching from the shore. Sondra's insurance company ultimately paid $301,000 to Isaac's family in a wrongful death settlement,

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