On Friday, the St. Paul, Minn. chapter of Black Lives Matter called for a police sergeant to be charged after he posted the message “Run them over” on social media, according to the news website The Root.
Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker posted the message online before a planned demonstration on Martin Luther King, Jr. day with, “Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street.”
Rothecker explains how drivers can avoid being charged if they struck a demonstrator. He is now been put on paid administrative leave. While the St. Paul Police Federation condemned Rothecker’s post, they also are representing him and protecting his right to due process.
According to CBS Minnesota, Rothecker released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for the post.
“I am extremely sorry for posting what I did, I understand that the post was insensitive and wrong,” said Rothecker in the statement. “My poor choice of words conveyed a message I did not intend and am not proud of… I apologize to the community members who participated peacefully in the protest.”
Black Lives Matter activists of the St. Paul chapter, including Rashad Turner, didn’t accept Rothecker’s apology at a press conference on Friday.
“It’s not OK to speak that type of language,” said Turner. “What you would do to protesters out in public — it’s not OK.”
Black Lives Matter aren’t the only group weighing in on the situation. According to Pioneer Press, a Minneapolis based Neighborhoods Organizing for Change were said to have questioned the sergeant’s apology.
Under the username of “JM Roth,” Rothecker wrote on the organization’s Facebook page on November 16, a day where people were protesting against the Minneapolis police for shooting Jamar Clark. In these comments, Rothecker also called for demonstrators to be run over.
“We believe Sgt. Rothecker’s online behavior shows a clear and deliberate pattern of inciting motorists to commit violent and potentially fatal acts of unprovoked aggression,” said Anthony Newby, the organization’s executive director, in a letter to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief Thomas Smith on Thursday.
Newby continued, “His repeated actions are a direct contradiction to his recent apology…. It is a dangerous, premeditated and predatory pattern of behavior.”
Rashad Turner and Black Lives Matter also want the sergeant to receive a harsher punishment by being fired and having criminal charges filed against him.
“We want every investigation that he has contributed to, to be reopened to check for any bias or corruption.” Turner said. “I think its time that career comes to an end.”
Another member of Black Lives Matter, Trahern Crews spoke at the Friday conference describing Rothecker’s comments as “terroristic threats,” according to Pioneer Press.
“These comments have been described as hateful, but… according to Minnesota statute… this is also a criminal offense that officer Rothecker has admitted to,” said Crews. “His admission, although not heartfelt… is an admission of guilt, and we expect (the) city attorney… to proceed with criminal charges.”
St. Paul’s Mayor Chris Coleman is said to have been angry about the post and that his city would be taking “the strongest possible action allowed under law.”
However, the discipline and appeal process could be a long haul, considering that Rothecker is an honorably discharged veteran.
CBS Minnesota looked into Rothecker’s discipline record, which showed to not be so squeaky clean. In his career, 13 complaints were filed against him while he was disciplined for only seven of them. He was also involved in four car crashes and given two suspensions. A supervisor said that Sgt. Rothecker had brought “scrutiny to the department” for not reporting on someone being hurt by an officer.
Black Lives Matter activists have also made the news recently for helping to deliver clean water to families in Flint, Mich. after their water was contaminated by lead, according to Buzzfeed.
“Clean water is a human right,” said Patrisse Cullors, of Black Lives Matter. “And I think that part what happens often times is that poor black communities end up getting the shorter end of the stick.”
[Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images]