Breaking The Glass Ceiling: New Brooklyn D.A. Kenneth Thompson reflects on the past, present and future

February 14, 2014 Helen Klein
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When Ken Thompson was elected Brooklyn district attorney on November 5, 2013, he not only resoundingly defeated 23-year incumbent Charles “Joe” Hynes, he also became the borough’s first African-American district attorney, “crash(ing) the glass ceiling,” according to now-Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who did the same.

For Brooklyn D.A. Thompson, “Black History Month is to me a time of reflection and to celebrate the accomplishments and heritage of African American and Caribbean American people here. It’s important to celebrate the contributions of all the people in the country and I am always excited about making sure that every group has time to reflect on how they help make the neighborhood great.

“I’m honored to be the first African American district attorney,” Thompson added, “and I am honored to represent all the people of Brooklyn. I intend to be a role model for the youth who hear about my life story, see my accomplishments and see my determination to  treat everyone fairly and equally, and keep everyone safe. I want them to consider becoming lawyers and prosecutors down the road.”

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Being a role model for Thompson is a way of paying it forward. Noting that his inspiration was his mother who “showed courage and sacrifice by becoming one of the first women to go on patrol [with the NYPD],” Thompson asserted, “If it wasn’t for her, I would never have become Brooklyn D.A.”

As for his ultimate wish for those youngsters, Thompson said, “It is for the next generation to go as far as hard work and talent will take them, to pursue their dreams and to continue to add to the greatness of this country and help other people along the way.”

Among Thompson’s goals for his new position are to “Keep everyone safe in Brooklyn, make sure neighborhoods are safe, and also make sure we have equal justice for all, and have a criminal justice system that treats people with fundamental fairness whenever they enter the criminal justice system as a defendant, a witness or a victim. I believe it is incumbent on me to make sure the process is fair and based on integrity. The ultimate goal is to do justice, not just get a conviction.”

Reflecting on the results of the 2013 New York City elections, Thompson noted that he was “excited to be part of a new generation of progressive elected officials of all backgrounds,” and praised Brooklynites for having cast ballots for “such an outstanding group of elected officials that represent the beauty and diversity of Brooklyn.”

Thompson stressed that, in the most recent citywide election, not only did borough residents elect their first African American borough president and their first African American district attorney, as well as helping to elect the city’s first African American public advocate, but also elected councilmembers representing other firsts – including Carlos Menchaca, the first Mexican-American councilmember and first openly gay councilmember, and Mark Treyger, the first Russian-American councilmember.

“I think that is important,” Thompson said.

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