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DFL leadership 'disappointed' by Rep. John Thompson's traffic stop controversy

Thompson was pulled over on July 4 for driving without a front license plate.
John Thompson

Minnesota DFL leadership is “disappointed” after state Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, accused the St. Paul police of racial profiling during a traffic stop.

Thompson, who is Black, was pulled over on July 4 for driving without a front license plate.

It was later reported by the Pioneer Press that Thompson presented a Wisconsin driver’s license, despite representing St. Paul in the Minnesota Legislature.

Thompson then accused the sergeant who had pulled him over of racial profiling while at an event outside the governor's mansion. The event marked five years since the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile.

“I thought we weren’t doing pretextual stops in the state. But we are… Let’s just call it what it was. And these traffic stops turn deadly,” Thompson said at the event.

But Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin has rebuked Thompson’s statements.

“Nobody is above the law, including our elected officials. We expect all of our elected officials, regardless of party, to not only follow the law, but to hold themselves to the highest standards,” Martin said.

“Whether they like it or not, their words, actions, and behavior are going to be scrutinized by the public. As such it is important for people in positions of power and influence to model the type of behavior we expect from everyone."

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell also denied Thompson’s accusations. Axtell said the stop was part of a Toward Zero Deaths safety detail.

“These aren’t accusations I take lightly, so I looked into the traffic stop, watched the body worn camera footage and spoke to the sergeant. This stop, made at about 1:20 in the morning, had absolutely nothing to do with the driver’s race,” Axtell wrote on Facebook.

“Simply put, the traffic stop was by the books. What happened afterwards was anything but.”

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Thompson has told the Pioneer Press that he had never switched to a Minnesota license, but the newspaper found that Thompson had renewed his Wisconsin driver’s license multiple times, including in November, the same month he was elected to represent St. Paul in the state Legislature.

He did not respond to a question about his residency status when he ran for office in Minnesota.

His Minnesota driving privileges, which do not require a Minnesota license, had also been revoked due to failure to pay child support, but his privileges were restored on Wednesday after KSTP reports his obligations were fulfilled.

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