MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Prominent leaders in the social justice community are rallying in support of DFL state Rep. John Thompson.
Speaking at the Capitol, they accused St. Paul police of targeting Thompson because he is Black and a vocal critic of police misconduct. They also stressed that “driving while Black” is a real problem in Minnesota.READ MORE: 'I Got A Ticket For Driving While Black': Video Released Showing Rep. John Thompson's Traffic Stop
At the news conferenc Nekima Levy Armstrong , the founder of the Racial Justice Network said,
“What about the status quo being anti-Black and the fact that we are not comfortable driving around the state of Minnesota?” Racial Justice Network founder Nekima Levy Armstrong said. “We are not safe.”
These community leaders say Thompson was right when he said this during his traffic stop: “You profiled me because you looked me dead in the face and I got a ticket for driving while Black.”
The exchange was captured by police body cams. He had been pulled over for not having a front license plate. He also had a suspended Wisconsin driver’s license for failure to pay child support.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtel has denied this was racial profiling, saying the stop was “by the books.”READ MORE: State Rep. John Thompson Cited For Driving With Suspended License, Accused Officer Of Racial Profiling
While questions continue about Thompson, about the traffic stop, his Wisconsin driver’s license, even where he lives, his charge that driving while Black is a problem is supported by statistics.
In St. Paul last year 43% of traffic stops were Black drivers. The Black population of St. Paul is just 16%.
Thompson has been a leading voice for police reforms at the State Legislature. A close friend of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Thompson is a fixture at rallies and protests.
“Representative Thompson has an important voice and his voice coming from a community that over the last year and a half has felt, and rightfully so, traumatized,” Gov. Tim Walz said at a Burnsville school Wednesday. “But as I’ve said I think all of us who are in these elected offices have a responsibility to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
In a statement, Thompson says the child support issue has been taken care of.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman says she is investigating allegations against Thompson.
WCCO reached out to Thompson Wednesday and has not heard back.