The Bay Ridge Democrats are in a daze since learning about the untimely passing of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. He was a dear friend of our club.
The son of one of the first women to serve as a NYPD patrol officer, and a product of New York City public schools, Ken's journey began inside an apartment in East Harlem's Robert Wagner Houses. Fast forward to January 2014, after defeating 23-year incumbent Charles Hynes, Ken was sworn in as the first African American to be elected as Brooklyn's District Attorney.
By the time we met Ken when he was running for D.A., he had already cemented his name as a fearless civil rights leader and staunch advocate for criminal justice reform. At first, Ken may have been surprised that a Democratic club from the same neighborhood as the incumbent had invited him to speak. Then he realized how much we had in common.
Ken spoke deliberately but compassionately, with the measured and self-assured cadence of someone who knew the importance of choosing his words carefully. But what struck us the most was how humble he was. Here was a guy who, among so many other things, had successfully lobbied the Justice Department to reopen the long-suppressed investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, in the back room of a Bay Ridge diner, asking for our support.
Ken was taken from us far too soon but the fuse he lit to restore the public trust burns on. It burns on in the hopes and dreams of every kid living in the Robert Wagner Houses and the 21 people wrongly convicted of murder and other crimes that Ken helped set free.
Whether it was criminal justice reform or fighting fraud against immigrants, Ken Thompson was a champion for justice who worked every day to make our communities safer and stronger without ever sacrificing our civil rights.
Please join us in sending love and strength to Ken's wife Lu-Shawn and his two children, Kenny and Kennedy. For all he had accomplished, Ken was still first and foremost a family man of deep faith who never forgot where he came from. We could all learn from his example. May angels lead him in.