MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Tempers at a Minneapolis City Council meeting on Thursday boiled over as a council member swore at an activist.
Ward 4 Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison directed the curse word at longtime community advocate Al Flowers, telling Flowers to "shut the f--- up."
The incident unfolded during a vote to approve a liquor license for Merwin Liquors store at Broadway and Lyndale, a heated issue in the community. Historically, the area around Merwin's has been a hot spot for violence. The measure had been opposed by Flowers and other community members.
The audio is difficult to hear, but it appears Flowers said, "We lost again, Jeremiah" to which Ellison responded with an expletive.
Ellison was then escorted out of the chambers by Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw, and the council subsequently went into recess. Vetaw later went to the hallway to speak with Flowers, when FOX 9 caught up to her.
"Of course, he was out of line, absolutely," Vetaw said when asked about Ellison's outburst. "I'm pretty sure he would tell you he was out of line."
FOX 9 is told Ellison followed up with text messages to Flowers. In the messages, Ellison addressed the liquor license issue and then insulted Flowers, calling him a "lying sack of s***." Flowers replied in disbelief, and Ellison further accused him of being a liar and a bigot, claiming that Flowers attacked his religion, adding "I'm letting everybody know about your hate for Muslims."
In the council chambers, it appears Flowers implied that Ellison, being Muslim, should oppose the liquor store, but the specifics of his statement remain unclear. Flowers told FOX 9 that he is not anti-Muslim. It is clear that several people were rattled by the confrontation.
Bridgette Stewart from the Agape Movement in Minneapolis commented on the impact of the exchange, saying, "It’s heartbreaking because what you’re witnessing right now with [Flowers] walking away, that is every black man in our community right now."
"Two Black men that I love, we come from the same community," added Vetaw. "We work on all these issues. And to see them divided like that, to see Jeremiah speak to him like that… It's not okay. And I told Jeremiah that."
FOX 9 texted Ellison for a response about the incident and his subsequent texts to Flowers. Ellison replied, "I’m sure it’ll make a nice little story." However, he did not respond to further inquiries regarding what he found offensive in the situation.