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Police investigate fistfight involving GOP congressional candidate outside Somerville Theatre Saturday

Somerville police are investigating a fight involving US Representative Ayanna Pressley’s GOP challenger that broke out during a political event Saturday featuring her and other Democratic members of the Squad at the Somerville Theatre.

The fight followed a verbal dispute between four men and two people who were protesting the Democratic event with Donnie Palmer, the Republican challenging Pressley in November, according to Grace Munns, a city spokeswoman, in an e-mail Sunday.

Police arrested Foster Starkes of Cambridge and Andwain Coleman of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Munn said.

Both men are scheduled to be arraigned Monday at Somerville District Court on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, she said. At least one person was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Munn said.


Munn said she could not say what kind of weapon was used in the fight and did not have information on whether Starkes and Coleman were among the protesters.

The protesters were with Palmer, who was carrying a US flag and bullhorn and could be seen addressing people waiting in line for the event in front of the theater and around the corner.

The event included US representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who along with Pressley are known as the Squad, and Cori Bush of Missouri.

In a roughly minute-long video that recorded part of Saturday’s brawl, Palmer can be seen struggling with several other men.

The video also showed a man seated on a nearby curb with large scrapes on his face, scalp, and knee.

Palmer, in a statement released by the Massachusetts Republican Party Sunday afternoon, said “radical progressives” are resorting to violence to silence Black Republicans who “dare to ‘step out of line’ and question their far-left agenda.”

Palmer, who is Black, said those who attacked his group had to be stopped before they hurt bystanders, “so I obliged.”


“Violence is never the answer, but it seems to be the first resort for radical progressives whenever they seek to silence Black Republicans,” he said.

A former Globe reporter erroneously tweeted Sunday that members of the lawmakers’ security team were the ones who fought with protesters outside the theater. He later posted a correction, but Palmer repeated the error in his statement.

Pressley’s campaign said in a brief statement Sunday that the fight did not involve them.

“During the community celebration on Saturday in Somerville, event security was made aware of an altercation that took place in the Davis Square area,” the Pressley campaign statements said. “This altercation did not involve event security or anyone associated with the community celebration, and was handled by the Somerville Police Department.”

Jim Lyons, the head of the state GOP, acknowledged in a phone interview Sunday that the Democratic lawmakers’ security staff was not involved in the fight.

But he said Pressley and her colleagues should publicly rebuke those who fought with the protesters.

“The Squad ought to condemn this sort of violence,” Lyons said.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.