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St. Paul police officer apologizes for Facebook comment about protesters

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A day after his resignation from a police officers' group, a St. Paul cop is apologizing for a recent Facebook comment that told people to run over protesters.

The comment – in which Facebook commenter "JM Roth" encourages users to hit Black Lives Matter demonstrators and provides detailed instructions in how to get away with it afterward – has been the subject of much controversy and publicity, with national websites like Gawker and CNN mentioning the story.

It was made in response to a Pioneer Press Facebook story about a protest the group had planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The post was soon deleted, but you can view it in the City Pages tweet below:

https://twitter.com/citypages/status/689502612819869696

On Tuesday, Sergeant Jeffrey Rothecker – identified as the person behind the "JM Roth" account – stepped down as second vice president of the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police, according to a statement from the group.

And following public outcry – and a condemnation of the comment from the St. Paul Police Department – Rothecker issued a statement of apology on Wednesday through a local public affairs firm:

"I am extremely sorry for posting what I did,I understand that the post was insensitive and wrong. My poor choice of words conveyed a message I did not intend and am not proud of. Shortly after submitting the post, I re-read it and deleted it.  As a law enforcement officer, I would never intentionally encourage someone to commit a crime. I very much regret my actions.

I apologize to all the citizens of St. Paul, the department, my fellow law enforcement professionals and my family for the scornful attention my mistake has brought upon them.

I apologize for exposing all law enforcement officers to increased scrutiny, during this difficult time of ongoing conflict between officers and members of the community. 

I apologize to the community members who participated peacefully in the protest."

The statement also points out that while the police union that represents Rothecker "in no way endorses the behavior that the post seems to suggest," the organization will continue to "ensure that he receives due process."

Rothecker, according to the firm, is an honorably discharged U.S. Army veteran and has served St. Paul's police force for over two decades.

The comment was originally brought to the police department's attention by Andrew Henderson, a community activist.

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