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Media Contact: Pete Gamades
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Phone: 612-310-6151


July 15, 2021

Representative John Thompson has been UnfairlyTargeted due to his Outspokenness on Police Violence
Community Groups stand in solidarity with Representative John Thompson

Minneapolis, MN— On July 4, Representative John Thompson was pulled over for a missing front license plate. This is a common experience for Black men in St. Paul and around the state and country. Law enforcement “finds” a reason to target Black men for items that have nothing to do with public safety. These pretextual stops are an example of “Driving While Black” and an example of racial profiling. The data proves this is a rampant problem in St. Paul. Last year, 43% of all traffic stops were of Black drivers while only 16% of St. Paul’s population is Black. Such pretextual stops rarely yield any substantive impact to public safety and more often are a form of harassment that white people do not face at the same rates. These stops also have led to the police killing of Black men including Philando Castille in 2016, a close friend to Representative Thompson; and more recently to Daunte Wright, a young Black father killed by police in April of this year.

Representative Thompson is being unfairly targeted by his fellow legislators, Governor Walz, and the chair of the DFL party, Ken Martin, for this minor issue. These same individuals rarely use this same, aggressive energy towards their fellow white legislators when they were committed of DWIs, sexual harassment and domestic violence. They also rarely, if ever, hold police accountable when they use excessive force or kill a community member. These individuals also held a second legislative session since the murder of George Floyd without passing any meaningful police accountability bills. It is important to note that Representative Thompson used his voice and influence to push for these bills to get passed; to no avail.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) is using its platform to denigrate Representative Thompson, a Black man and politician, because of his outspokenness on police violence and his commitment to passing meaningful police accountability bills in the Minnesota State Legislature.

The media has also played a role in the vilifying of Representative Thompson. Media outlets rushed to judgement and did not take the opportunity to expose the racial disparities and long-standing patterns of racial profiling that Representative Thompson was speaking about. Instead, the media chose to be a mouthpiece for the St. Paul Police Department

“I am dismayed to see the attacks on one of our few Black male legislators”, said Nekima Levy Armstrong, civil rights attorney and founder of the Racial Justice Network. She continued, “This has gone into the realm of targeting and harassment of a Black elected official simply because he has been one of the most prominent and outspoken voices against police violence and police brutality.”

“The MPPOA needs to end their attacks on Representative Thompson immediately,” said Pete Gamades from the Racial Justice Network.” “If MPPOA would take this same aggressive stance against police officers who commit violence and terrorize Black and brown communities, the community would be in a far better place.”

We are demanding that this aggressive targeting of Representative John Thompson end. We call on Governor Tim Walz and the chair of the Minnesota DFL party, Ken Martin, to retract their negative, gaslighting statements and show support for one of the few Black elected officials within the Minnesota DFL party. Lastly, we call on St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell to acknowledge the glaring racial disparities in police stops by his department and commit to eliminating racial profiling and police abuse.

The Racial Justice Network (RJN) is a multi-racial, grassroots organization, committed to fighting for racial justice and building bridges across racial, social, and economic lines.