A St. Paul, Minn., police officer has been suspended over allegations that he encouraged drivers to run over Martin Luther King Jr. Day marchers—and told them how to avoid being charged. "Run them over," said a Facebook comment under a Pioneer Press article on a Black Lives Matter rally. "Keep traffic flowing and don't slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street." The comment was made under the name "JM Roth," which the activist who reported the post believes is the online alias of Sgt. Jeffrey M. Rothecker, the Star Tribune reports. "Roth" recommended that anybody who ran over protesters should stop a couple of blocks away and call 911, adding, "These idiots could try and sue you in civil court, but remember that it will be jury trial and so most likely it will come out in your favor."
Activists tell City Pages that "Roth" has long trolled the Facebook pages of police accountability groups with racist comments—and admitted being Rothecker in an exchange a few months ago. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman issued a statement saying he was "outraged and disgusted by the post" and has told police to investigate it, the Star Tribune reports. The St. Paul police department issued a statement condemning the comments and promising that "swift, strong, and decisive disciplinary action will be taken" if it determines that an officer wrote the comment. The Press reports that Rothecker is a 22-year veteran of the force and is a former president of the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police, where he is currently a second vice president.