John Thompson won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor primary last week for Minnesota House of Representatives District 67A.
This is pretty much a free pass into the Minnesota House of Representatives. According to Ballotpedia, the last time there was a Republican challenger to the DFL in the district, in 2016, he garnered a solid 23 percent of the vote. (The DFL, for the uninitiated, is the Democratic Party’s strange Minnesotan affiliate, formed by a merger with a successful state third party in 1944.)
It’s not a surprise that police reform is a priority for Thompson. As he notes on his campaign’s website, his “family and I have always worked hard and kept to ourselves until the day my friend and co-worker Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop. At that moment, I knew that I could no longer remain silent.”
No one doubts the traumatic nature of that kind of event, and stay silent Thompson hasn’t. After all, his activism is likely to carry him to the Minnesota state Capitol. His ability to make changes, however, may be somewhat compromised by this inability to remain silent — or at least to modulate it
On Saturday, Thompson was one of the speakers at a small Black Lives Matter demonstration outside the home of Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll on a residential block in Hugo, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb.
Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis police union, has come under criticism since the death of George Floyd — particularly for having spoken at a 2019 rally for President Trump, where he criticized former President Barack Obama’s administration for “the handcuffing and oppression of the police” and lauded the current president for “letting the cops do their jobs,” according to CNN.
Kroll, however, has told KARE-TV that the manner of Floyd’s death “was sickening. It’s something that should never have occurred. No officer can condone that.”
On Saturday, that wasn’t the rhetoric anyone was focused on. Instead, it was Thompson’s speech that drew a bit more attention.
Here’s how the Minneapolis Star Tribune decided to sanitize Thompson’s remarks, in an editorial that would be deserving of a Pulitzer in grim humor if one were given:
“I’m a Black man being terrorized by this [expletive] [pejorative] right here. We are terrorized by the [administrative title of pejorative group]. Y’all got the [administrative title of pejorative group] living in your [expletive] neighborhood. All the [pejorative] exist in Hugo, Minnesota, and it’s right here. Don’t run now. Don’t run now, racist white people. I’m here!”
“Oh, and something about not giving [an expletive] if Hugo should burn,” the Star Tribune editorial board added.
Here are the remarks, sans the part about watching Hugo burn, in their unexpurgated glory:
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
John Thompson, who recently won his Primary for 67A in St. Paul, goes off and screams at neighborhood children, residents, and neighbors of Police Union Leader Bob Kroll.
“F*CK, Hugo Minnesota!”
BLM protesters gathered today outside Kroll’s home. pic.twitter.com/1vTaiTQsML
— Alpha News MN (@AlphaNewsMN) August 15, 2020
Apparently, everyone on Bob Kroll’s block needed to hear that. Bring the whole family. “I didn’t come here to be peaceful” is the least you could say.
This guy just incited protesters to “burn down [the city of] Hugo.” Outside the home of Bob Kroll. pic.twitter.com/fZ80DYea3X
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) August 15, 2020
WCCO-TV also reported further vulgar remarks from Thompson during the speech: “Come on over here with your ‘Blue Lives Matter’ sign. Blue lives ain’t s—, and if people in Hugo don’t support black people, f— Hugo.”
Thompson made this speech, in case you didn’t notice, wearing a T-shirt saying “Bob KKKroll Must Go,” proving that the far-left’s canard of replacing the hard-C sound in any proper noun they find distasteful with “KKK” (i.e., “AmeriKKKa”) will never get old to them.
Republicans slammed the remarks as “reprehensible.” Meanwhile, the candidate himself realized this was probably most people’s introduction to him, and wasn’t a positive one. He, or someone with his campaign, posted a statement to Facebook Monday apologizing for the remarks.
“I want to make a positive difference, and my comments on Saturday were not helpful,” the statement declared.
“Inflammatory rhetoric is not how I want to address the important issues we’re facing, and I apologize. I’m not apologizing for my passion to fight injustice.”
I became an activist and ran for the legislature to make a difference, to work diligently to fix our broken criminal…
The DFL took a pretty benign view of the incident.
“I’m grateful for the work John is doing to combat systemic racism, and I’m glad that he recognizes yesterday’s rhetoric was inflammatory,” state DFL leader Ken Martin said, according to WCCO.
There are several issues with that kind of indulgence.
For one, most of Thompson’s rhetoric straddled the line between “inflammatory” and incitement, but his comment about “burning Hugo down” went over the line.
“This whole g*d*mn state burned down for 20 g-d-mn dollars, you think we give a f-ck about burning Hugo down?” he told his supporters as the crowd cheered. (The whole speech can be seen here. But remember, the language is graphic.)
Beyond that, the rally featured piñatas of Bob Kroll and Liz Collin for everyone to smash, with protesters demanding that both of them lose their jobs.
Who is Liz Collin? That’s Bob Kroll’s wife. She’s an Emmy-winning anchor and reporter for WCCO. The Minneapolis CBS affiliate has been clear that she doesn’t cover anything regarding the Minneapolis Police Department or the Minneapolis Police Federation. It doesn’t matter. Demonstrators want her fired simply for being married to someone they have ideological issues with. They also used the occasion of Thompson’s speech to smash an effigy of her.
Should the same rules, therefore, apply to John Thompson, as well? Should he lose his job? Shouldn’t the DFL pull its support, even if that’s just a token gesture?
None of that will happen, but Thompson was appearing at a rally in which Black Lives Matter protesters wanted a high-profile television journalist to lose her job because of whom she chose to marry and suggested he wanted her neighborhood to burn down, and all the state party leader did was thank him for combatting “systemic racism” and for realizing — a bit belatedly, it must be noted — that vulgar, racist language at a rally held outside someone’s home on a suburban block
Thompson, and his political party, want voters to think he can be entrusted in state government despite those words, but Liz Collin can’t be entrusted as a reporter because she married the head of Minneapolis’ police union. The mind reels.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.