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Brooklyn public officials pay tribute to Kenneth Thompson

October 10, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
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Champion of Justice. Civil Rights Leader. Dedicated Public Servant.  

Following the loss Sunday night of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson to cancer at age 50, accolades and tributes from politicians and public officials across the borough and the city came pouring in.

We will update this post as needed.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

From Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

“Brooklyn has lost a true champion of justice. Our borough stands united in mourning the terribly untimely passing of Ken Thompson, a man who set a gold standard for public service that has had an lasting impact across our country. From enacting marijuana prosecution reform to addressing the open warrant crisis for low-level offenses, he has introduced much-needed fairness and compassion into our criminal justice system. Furthermore, Ken’s commitment to the law and to the well-being of our children and families made our streets fundamentally safer.

“Ken was more than my colleague; he was my friend. I am honored to be beside him in the storied history of Brooklyn as the first African-Americans to hold boroughwide office, and I know that many young men and women will reach a bit higher because of the heights that Ken reached in his career and his life. Let us all lift up his family and friends at this most difficult hour, and let us continue to support the men and women of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office who will further the mission that Ken Thompson laid out for our borough, city, state, and nation.”

From Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray

“The thoughts and prayers of our entire city are with District Attorney Ken Thompson, his family and his loved ones tonight. With a life and promise cut far too short, our city was blessed with but a glimpse of Ken’s unwavering commitment to justice and his unrivaled pursuit of a more fair system for all those he served. Our courtrooms and our communities have no doubt been dealt a blow with Ken’s passing, but I am confident the indelible mark left by his public service will forever be a part of the fabric of our justice system. Tonight we mourn the loss of a champion of reform. Our task now will be to rise each day forward in the spirit Ken lived his life.”

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“I am profoundly saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson after a battle with cancer. Ken was a dedicated public servant who embodied the highest principles of the law, and his grand presence will be sorely missed.

“A lifelong New Yorker, Ken was known as an effective, aggressive civil rights leader – and a national voice for criminal justice reform. When he took office in 2014, Ken became the first African-American in history to serve as Brooklyn District Attorney. He also served with distinction as a federal prosecutor, working with Loretta Lynch in the Eastern District of New York before founding a law firm devoted to social justice and the fight against discrimination. 

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the Thompson family, friends and neighbors, and the entire Brooklyn community at this difficult time. As a tribute to Ken’s enduring legacy, I am directing all flags to half staff on Monday, October 10, 2016.”

From Brooklyn Chief Assistant District Attorney Eric Gonzalez

DA Ken Thompson was a giant among those seeking to reform the criminal justice system and we are all privileged to have worked under his transformative leadership these past three years.

In that short period, he transformed the Office into a model urban prosecutor’s office, with a mandate to do justice and treat everyone and every case fairly and with utmost integrity. Among his many initiatives, he created a model for correcting wrongful convictions, instituted a marijuana policy that would later be replicated citywide and started a summons forgiveness program that would also be instituted in several other jurisdictions. Our sincere prayers are with his wife, children and loved ones. May he rest in peace, knowing that he has made Brooklyn and New York City a better place.

The executive team and I are committed to leading the Office and carrying out DA Thompson’s vision and initiatives.

From U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

“Ken Thompson was a devoted father and loving husband.  He built an incredible civil rights law practice founded on the principle of liberty and

justice for all.  He served our city and the nation with great distinction, first as a federal prosecutor and then as the dynamic Brooklyn District Attorney.  And he was my friend.  

As District Attorney, Ken Thompson kept us safe, freed the wrongfully convicted, successfully prosecuted gunrunners, reformed the practice of low level marijuana arrests and established groundbreaking, compassionate smart on crime policies.  In a short time in office, he made a tremendous difference and he will never be forgotten.”

From U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

 All of us in Brooklyn and New York are praying for Ken’s family and all those who knew and loved him. Our borough and our city are better places because of Ken’s steadfast work to advance justice.  His contributions in areas like reducing gun violence and the ‘Begin Again’ initiative made our city safer and our justice system fairer.  We will always remember the accomplishments he made.  I hope the progress he helped drive forward during his life is a comfort to his family.

From U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan

“I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. Ken was a community leader and passionate about criminal justice, and his time was cut tragically short. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and the Brooklyn community.”

From NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

I am saddened beyond words to hear of the tragic passing of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. Ken was a courageous fighter for civil rights and a leader in the battle to bring justice — however long deferred — to people who were unjustly imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit. As a former federal prosecutor and a pioneering Brooklyn District Attorney, he championed the cause of equal justice for all. But Ken was not only passionate about the rule of law, he was devoted to his wife and two children. He was a friend to me, as he was to many, and he will be greatly missed. I offer my deepest condolences to his loved ones and to the extended Brooklyn DA family at this difficult time.​

From Assemblymember Joe Lentol

“Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson was an exemplary steward of our criminal justice system. He led the way with progressive policies that not only improved the system, but also aimed to rebuild the trust between police and community relations. This could be seen in his investigations of wrongful convictions and suspension of prosecuting low level marijuana arrests. Ken will surely be missed, but he left a mark on Brooklyn that will never be forgotten. My prayers go out to his family and his staff.”   

From Community Board 2

Mr. Thompson was elected as Brooklyn district attorney in 2013, the first African-American to hold the position. He put in place several progressive initiatives during his short time in office.

District Attorney Thompson established a Conviction Review Unit that moved to vacate, or supported the dismissal of, the convictions of 21 people who were wrongfully convicted. He also implemented the groundbreaking policy to not prosecute low-level marijuana possession arrests, in order to spare young people from the burden of a criminal record.

Prior to his election, Mr. Thompson was in private practice and worked as a federal prosecutor.

Closer to home, Ken was a resident of Clinton Hill, a former member of Community Board 2, the husband of Lu-Shawn Thompson, who is currently appointed to CB2, and our neighbor upstairs, 11 floors above the community board’s district office.

Community Board 2 expresses its condolences to Ken Thompson’s family and friends. The results of his leadership on criminal justice reform will live on in tribute to him.

From Assemblymember Josue Pierre

I am shocked and saddened to have learned about the unfortunate passing of Brooklyn District Attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson.  

D.A. Ken Thompson passed away on Sunday, October 9th, 2016, after losing his battle with cancer. He will be remembered for the historic achievement of becoming Brooklyn’s first black District Attorney, by winning the 2013 election. During his career, Ken Thompson was a voice for racial justice, and was one of the country’s most progressive District Attorneys. 

It’s very sad to see an individual who had so much to offer their community pass away so soon. He leaves behind a loving family, his colleagues and peers, and he leaves with the respect and admiration of us all. 

Myself and many others of my generation will look at D.A. Ken Thompson’s dedication to justice and civic life as we carry out our civic duties. 

From Frank Seddio, Chairman of the Kings County Democratic Executive Committee

“All of Brooklyn is shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden passing of District Attorney Ken Thompson. His leadership in restoring vitality to Brooklyn’s top law enforcement office, and his commitment to justice for all were firmly demonstrated by his fight to free those who were wrongly convicted. Our thought and prayers are with his family, and his colleagues in the Kings County District Attorney’s office.”

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