(KMSP) - On Saturday, St. Paul City Councilmember Dai Thao responded to criticism of a Facebook post in which he wrote "I alone cannot change police policies, but if we work together, we can end systemic and institutional racism.”
Thao wrote the post after residents disrupted a council meeting Wednesday over the recent fatal officer-involved shooting.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell responded on the department’s Facebook page saying that while he agrees that community involvement is critically important to democracy, "I cannot begin to express how disappointed I am in some of Councilmember Thao’s words. His sweeping generalizations about our police department are untrue. They are also an insult to all SPPD employees — sworn and civilian — who work hard on behalf of the city.”
Thao responded, writing: "Protecting the people of St. Paul, while promoting equity, and preserving St. Paul's heritage, has always been my goal. I will continue to speak for the people, even if it's an "unpopular" statement to some of the powers that be in St. Paul. Voices go silent, when people in power decide to be quiet for fear of backlash from their fellow policy makers. I will ALWAYS speak for the people, shake up the status quo, regardless of how it affects me or my position
Thao also said on Friday that the post “has been mischaracterized."
Thao is running for St. Paul mayor this year.