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Rep. John Thompson apologizes to St. Paul sergeant for July 4 traffic stop accusations, police say

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Jul. 23—State Rep. John Thompson has apologized to the St. Paul police sergeant who pulled him over July 4. Thompson had accused the officer of racially profiling him after it was discovered he was driving with a Wisconsin driver’s license.

Thompson stopped by the department’s Western District on Hamline Avenue unexpectedly Thursday.

“The conversation was very brief,” said Steve Linders, spokesman for the department.

The apology come a day after Thompson was found guilty in Hennepin County District Court of obstructing the legal process during a 2019 incident in Robbinsdale. That incident also involved Thompson interacting with police, with him being arrested for not backing down and following the officer’s instructions.

On Wednesday, Thompson told the court, “I don’t want to fight this no more,” he said. “My family has been through enough.”

Thompson’s July 4 traffic citation for driving after his privileges were suspended initiated a cascade of scandals stemming from multiple past interactions with the legal system. The DFLer who represents much of St. Paul’s East Side, has been told by leaders of his own party to resign from his elected position. Thompson has refused and party leaders are considering their next steps.

The activist-turned-politician previously worked as a machinist until he injured himself and could no longer do manual labor. He has said the death of his friend Philando Castile who was fatally shot by a St. Anthony police officer in 2016, energized him to enter politics to fight against racial injustice.

Regarding the July 4 traffic stop, Thompson was captured on the sergeant’s body camera telling the officer, “You profiled me because you looked me dead in the face and I got a ticket for driving while Black. You pulled me over because you saw a Black face in this car, brother.”

He reiterated his claim of being racially profiled two days later during a public speech at a memorial for Castile.

“I’m still being profiled,” he said. “You can still get driving-while-Black tickets in the state.”

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell called for an apology from Thompson on July 9 after viewing the sergeant’s body cam footage and finding it to be “by the books.”

Axtell had said then that the stop “had absolutely nothing to do with the driver’s race. What it did involve was a public servant doing what the community asks of him.”

Regarding the 2019 incident, Thompson said Wednesday that he planned to circle back with Robbinsdale police and try to make amends.

Thompson, who was caught on camera yelling at staff at North Memorial Health Hospital, accusing them of “white fragility,” was arrested when police intervened and asked him to calm down and leave the hospital. He blamed his arrest on racial discrimination.

“I know that if this wasn’t a family of color, we wouldn’t be treated like this,” he told the court.

Thompson’s obstruction charge is a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to six months’ probation.

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