Washington

Embattled Minnesota Democrat John Thompson found guilty of obstruction


Minnesota state Sen. John Thompson was found guilty of obstruction Wednesday for a 2019 disturbance at a hospital, adding to the first-term Democratic legislator’s mounting political woes.

A judge sentenced Mr. Thompson to six months probation and a $200 fine after a six-member jury reached the verdict on the misdemeanor charge in Hennepin County Court in Minneapolis, according to local news reports.

Mr. Thompson had accused police of racial discrimination, while prosecutors argued that he obstructed the legal process by resisting arrest during a melee involving dozens of people at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale.

“I met disrespect with disrespect,” Mr. Thompson said after the verdict as reported by the Pioneer Press. “Because I’m vocal, people take my voice and say I’m angry. I have every right to be angry.”

Mr. Thompson said he had gone to the hospital to visit a friend who had attempted suicide but was treated rudely by hospital staff, which he attributed to racism. The hospital was locked down for about 90 minutes.

“I’m going to keep fighting for what is right,” he said on KARE-11. “You know me. You know I’m not a criminal.”

The trial coincided with calls by leading Minnesota Democrats, including Gov. Tim Walz, for Mr. Thompson to resign over a series of domestic assault incidents in Minnesota and Wisconsin dating back to 2003, some of which took place in front of children.

None of the charges resulted in convictions for domestic assault, although Mr. Thompson pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in three of the cases, according to court records and reporting by Fox9 in Minneapolis.

Jordan Kushner, Mr. Thompson’s lawyer, said Sunday that his client denied the “inflammatory allegations” and that he “challenges the authenticity of the police reports.”

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, who has also called on Mr. Thompson to step down, told the Republican leader Wednesday that she would not take action until after the obstruction trial in the absence of an ethics complaint.

Mr. Thompson drew attention to his legal history after he alleged being racially profiled at a July 4 traffic stop at which he produced a Wisconsin driver’s license, raising questions about whether he resides in his East St. Paul district.

Elected in November, Mr. Thompson became a community activist after his friend Philando Castile was shot and killed by police during a 2016 traffic stop. Castile’s family received a $3 million settlement from the city of Saint Anthony, Minnesota.

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