Public housing residents object to on-site filming of HBO series ‘Mogadishu, Minnesota’

Instead of Cedar-Riverside filming, the HBO production team is looking at a housing complex on W. 31st Street. 

A controversial HBO series called “Mogadishu, Minnesota” will not be filmed at a Minneapolis public housing complex in the city’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood after all.

Residents of the 1627 S. 6th St. building struck down a request to grant filmmakers access to their home, voting unanimously on Wednesday — 51 to 0.

Most of the people who live in the building — one of four public housing buildings along Cedar Avenue collectively known as “The Cedars” — are senior citizens of East African descent.

While the vote is a setback for the production team, which had budgeted three days for filming at the building starting Oct. 12, it does not put an end to the project. The HBO team was also looking at another housing complex — the Charles Horn Towers on W. 31st Street.

“I’m truly happy,” said Iqbal Mohamed, who spoke against the HBO pilot at a community meeting before the vote. “The elders know what’s up.”

At the meeting, she joined four other speakers who raised concerns that the show will depict Somali-Americans as terrorists.

Abdullahi Bade, a resident of the 1627 building, was among the 75 people at the community meeting. He, too, voiced his concern.

“We do not want any filming to take place!” he yelled.

An HBO delegation including Jonathan Filley, producer of the pilot, described their proposal for filming at the location, including plans for security and traffic control. The team described the project as a “family drama” that is also about immigration and being both Somali and American. They read a synopsis of the show, written by its creator, K’naan Warsame, a Somali-Canadian musician and writer.

Last month, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority Board of Commissioners passed a motion calling on MPHA staff to move ahead with contract negotiations with HBO for the filming of the show — as long as the resident council at the 1627 high-rise building approved.

Allie Shah

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