Two Men Were Charged After A Fight Outside A Political Event In Somerville

Donnie Palmer, Rep. Pressley’s Republican challenger, was one of two victims protesting the event on Saturday.

Two men were charged with assault after a fight outside a political event at the Somerville Theatre, which featured U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley and the Squad, a group of liberal Democratic women lawmakers.

According to court records, Pressley’s Republican challenger, Donnie Palmer, was one of two victims protesting the event on Saturday. Shawn Nelson, another protester, was the other.
According to police reports, the brawl left Nelson with injuries that required hospitalization but were not life-threatening.

According to police reports, everyone involved claimed self-defense.
The incident’s circumstances are unknown. However, Jim Lyons, the state GOP chairman, emphasized the violent melee in a campaign press release, calling it an example of liberal politics gone wild.

“What if I told you that a violent gang of squad’s sympathizers assaulted a conservative gay Black man outside an event attended by not just U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley but her entire delegation?” Lyons stated in a press release.

The event was attended by U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, known as the Squad, along with Pressley, Cori Bush of Missouri, too. In a brief statement issued on Sunday, Pressley’s campaign stated that they were not involved in the fight.

The men arrested — Foster Starkes, 36, of Cambridge, and Andwain Coleman Jr., 29, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio — had no ties to Pressley or the event at the Somerville Theater, according to police reports released after their arraignment on Monday.
The fight began around 4:20 p.m. Saturday in Seven Hills Park and ended on Dover Street, according to police reports.

According to the reports, Nelson told officers he was in Davis Square protesting the Squad event as soon as he engaged in conflict with an unknown woman “with whom he has had prior altercations.” Four men later approached him, claiming to be the woman’s relatives.

An argument devolved into a physical altercation.

“The four men then assaulted him, knocking him to the ground, kicking him, punching him, and hitting him with a flag pole belonging to a witness,” according to the report. “I noticed Mr. Nelson had numerous abrasions and cuts on his face and extremities.”
Nelson also showed the officer a video of the melee taken by someone who witnessed it. I appeared to be familiar with him.

Coleman told police that he and Starkes were leaving Mike’s Restaurant in Davis Square when a group of people in front of the Somerville Theater began yelling and hurling racial slurs at them.

“Both parties claimed that Mr. Nelson and his protesters hurled racial epithets at them and attacked them.” The report also stated that the officer “did not observe Mr. Coleman or Mr. Starks have obvious injuries.”

In Somerville District Court, Starkes and Coleman both pleaded not guilty to a single count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Judge Sarah Joss set the men’s subsequent court appearances for Nov. 1 on their recognizance.

Brian J. Donegan appoints a lawyer to represent Starkes and stand in for Coleman at his arraignment. Donegan told the judge that there was no “proof of a dangerous weapon” in the police report. Outside of court, Donegan, like Starkes and Coleman, declined to comment.

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