State rep claims he was racially profiled, denies suspended license

State Rep. John Thompson (DFL) represent District 67A in St. Paul, Minnesota.

State Representative John Thompson said he was racially profiled by St. Paul Police on July 4th when he was stopped for not having a front license plate on his vehicle.  

"He saw my black skin in my baseball cap," said Thompson, who was stopped a 7th Street E. and Wacouta St. at 1:25 in the morning.  

"He wasn’t looking at my license plate. He was looking in my face," Thompson said. 

A St. Paul Police spokesperson said the stop was part of their beefed-up holiday traffic zone enforcement.  

During the traffic stop, Thompson identified himself as a state representative and accused the sergeant who pulled him over of racially profiling him, the police spokesperson said.  

But St. Paul Police Sgt. Peter Crum, who stopped Thompson, had another question, according to the traffic citation:  Why did Thompson, a state lawmaker, have a Wisconsin driver license when his Minnesota license had been suspended for failing to pay child support?  

Thompson was charged by citation with driving after suspension.   

In a phone interview, Thompson denied he has ever had a Minnesota license, but said he was not "going to go toe to toe with police on that." 

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety confirms Thompson’s Minnesota driver license privileges were revoked more than two years ago, April 21, 2019, at the request of Ramsey County Child Support.   

Driving privileges can be revoked even without a current license.   

The spokesperson said Thompson’s privileges were restored on Wednesday with resolution of his child support issues.   

Court records in Thompson’s child support case are sealed and not public.  

In Minnesota, a parent’s driver license can be suspended if they are more than three months behind on child support.   

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) makes the request to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS), to suspend a license, usually at the request of child support.  In 2019, such a request was made in 10,891 cases.   

But in 2020, DHS requested the suspension of only 5,074 driver licenses due to Governor Tim Walz’ Peacetime Executive Order.  That remained the case until June 30.  DHS now has 60 days to put those practices back in place. 

In both Wisconsin and Minnesota, residency is a requirement for a driver license. A driver may only hold one license or ID from one state at any given time.   

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS), when a person applies for a license in any state, they must have valid privileges in all other states in to obtain a license.  The driver’s status is confirmed through a national driver registry.   

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation confirms Thompson has a valid Wisconsin driver license.   

When Thompson applied for his Wisconsin license there was not a suspended status on record in Minnesota, the spokesperson said.   

In Wisconsin, non-payment of child support is not a major driving-related offense, so it would not trigger a suspension or non-renewal of a Wisconsin license.  

Thompson began his political career after his friend Philando Castile was killed by a Falcon Heights police officer on July 6, 2016. 

Prior to the police killing, Castile had been stopped by police 46 times and accumulated more than $6,000 in fines.