Ilhan Omar’s Campaign Manager Claire Bergren Has a History of Controversy

Unnoticed amid the controversy surrounding Omar has been the past statements of her campaign manager, Claire Bergren.

Claire Bergren

Ilhan Omar’s 2020 campaign kicked off last month, with little media fanfare. Omar—who was elected to Congress in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district in 2019—has been the subject of controversy due to policy positions she has taken, as well questions about her past. And earlier this year, the New York Post reported that the FBI is looking into whether Omar committed tax fraud, immigration fraud, and student loan fraud by marrying her brother.

Unnoticed amid the controversy surrounding Omar has been the past statements of her campaign manager, Claire Bergren.

In one tweet clipped by journalist David Steinberg, Bergren said we need “More Ella Baker, less MLK.” Here Steinberg seemed to accuse Bergren of being against MLK, though it is more likely that Bergren was pointing to Baker as an important civil rights figure who had also criticized sexism within the civil rights movement. Yet Bergren’s tweet was at least somewhat unclear, and to-date no media outlets have asked her about it.

Posts condoning violence?

Although it is unlikely that Bergren was criticizing MLK for his support of nonviolence in that tweet, there are other tweets that are more suspect.

“Justice will never be had in the court room,” said Bergren in 2014, “justice will always be had in the streets.” In another social media post she wrote: “So annoyed when ppl say ‘Shutting down the highway doesn’t change anything!’ Direct action is a TOOL in the toolbox. Not the whole strategy.”

Posting about a news report from Kare 11 in December 2014 that protestors had shut down I-35W in Minneapolis, Begren implied she was part of these protests writing “proud and tired and angry and sickened and energized and tired.”

“Broken windows are not broken spines,” said Bergren in April 2015, during the Baltimore riots that caused untold amounts of damage to black communities and property owners. In a follow up tweet, Bergren said that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” 

Later in 2015, Bergren wrote that Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis should “flood the streets with 1,000s of unafraid revolutionaries” in order to “kill the white supremacy.” In June of that same year, Bergren posted a drawing of a black woman in a bikini standing over a white police officer, who was cuffed and face-down on the ground.


Bergren’s social media history also shows a history of supporting Marxism. “The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born, now is the time of monsters,” was one picture that Bergren posted, which showed a burning match. It was unclear whether the “monsters” the image spoke of were the “good guys” or the “bad guys.” Another post, probably more satirical, talked about unionization and cooperatives progressing eventually into “full communism.” Yet she also posted about a book titled “Black Marxism.”

While Ms. Bergren’s social media history isn’t surprising for a leftwing activist, some of the posts that seem to condone street violence—which we’ve seen acted upon time after time during the Trump era, including in the streets of Minneapolis after the Trump rally—have yet to draw any media attention.


Willis Krumholz
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Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.