Minnesota House Democrats indefinitely postponed a fundraiser featuring a dozen DFL candidates after an influential law enforcement group voiced concerns about including a St. Paul Democrat whose actions and statements at a protest in Hugo sparked backlash.
The head of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA), in a letter to House Speaker Melissa Hortman, expressed "deep frustration" that John Thompson, an activist running for a St. Paul House seat, was invited to participate in the fundraiser.
Thompson, the endorsed DFL candidate for a St. Paul House seat, has faced intense criticism for a profanity-laced appearance at a Black Lives Matter protest outside the home of Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll. Video of the event captured Thompson and others beating piñata effigies of Kroll and his wife, a Twin Cities journalist.
"This is violent and outrageous behavior — and not just rhetoric — specifically against a police officer and his family," MPPOA Executive Director Brian Peters wrote. "Anyone — including candidates for office — that supports Thompson's candidacy to the [Minnesota House of Representatives] cannot be considered a supporter of law enforcement."
Hortman's initial response to MPPOA on Monday evening suggested she planned to continue with the fundraiser. In a letter, the Brooklyn Park Democrat noted that Thompson apologized and has faced death threats in the wake of the incident.
"I have accepted his apology and will be working alongside him in future legislative sessions to improve the state," she wrote.
But later Monday, the DFL Caucus reversed course and canceled the event via an e-mail to supporters.
In a statement about the decision released Tuesday, Hortman urged all Minnesotans to "come together to heal our state."
"We understand that proceeding with the fundraiser would have conveyed to some that we condoned the conduct in Hugo. We do not," she said. "This is a time to move forward from conflict and division."