Minn. lawmaker's NBA tweet causes uproar, called racist - KMSP-TV

Minn. lawmaker's NBA tweet causes uproar, called racist

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Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington)
FARMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) -

A tweet sent by a Minnesota politician about street crime and the NBA sparked a flurry of controversy and racism allegations on Sunday evening.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, a Republican from Farmington, sent a tweet shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Sunday that read:

@PatGarofalo "Let's be honest, 70% of teams in NBA [sic] could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime."

Hundreds of people retweeted the message, but hundreds more criticized the statement as being racist. That may be because over 75 percent of NBA players are black.

Many sports fans on Twitter hastened to point out that, as far as statistics on professional sporting leagues go, NFL players appear most inclined to commit crimes. In fact, NFL players were arrested more than three times more than NBA players were in 2010, according to Bleacher Report.

Rep. Garofalo issued the following apology on Monday:

"In the last 24 hours, I've had the opportunity to re-learn one of life's lessons: whenever any of us are offering opinions, it is best to refer to people as individuals as opposed to groups. Last night, I publicly commented on the NBA and I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized. The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize. In addition, it's been brought to my attention that I was mistaken and the NBA policy on drug enforcement is stronger than I previously believed.  Again, I offer my sincere apologies for my comments."

The Republican Party of Minnesota appears to be standing by Garofalo. Chris Fields, the secretary for the party, told Fox 9 News, "I think what he's talking about is sports culture and an indictment on that sports culture. Many of these players don't have the maturity to handle the pressures that come along with that."

Meanwhile, DFL chair Ken Martin called Garofalo's remarks "incredibly racist," yet "not surprising" given the messenger.

@kenmartin73 "The remarks tonight by @PatGarofalo are incredibly racist though not surprising coming from the @mngop."


Martin also released a statement on Monday that mentioned the tweet, which read, in part:

"Last year, the national Republican Party promised the American people it would ‘rebrand' and be more welcoming.

Apparently the Minnesota GOP didn't get the memo. This weekend they again denied endorsement to a sitting legislator because she stood on the right side of history and voted to support marriage equality. And yesterday, Rep. Pat Garofalo, a Republican legislator from Farmington, sent a racist tweet."

Ryan Vernosh -- the 2010 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, as stated in his Twitter bio -- called the comment "beyond alarming."

@RyanVernosh "@PatGarofalo the racial and racist undertones in this comment is beyond alarming."

What do you think of Garofalo's remarks? Join the conversation on Facebook.

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