A Minneapolis man who lost his job with the Transportation Security Administration for an off-duty assault of an elderly Somali man has been sentenced to six months in prison for the hate crime. George Thompson, 64, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Thompson’s case was the first prosecuted under the act, which was signed into law in October 2009 and named after Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teen who died after being kidnapped and beaten in 1998, and James Byrd Jr., a black man who was dragged to death in Texas that same year.
According to court documents in the federal case: Thompson was leaving a bar in his Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and “punched or shoved” an 82-year-old Somali man without provocation. “You Muslims, go back to your country,” witnesses reported Thompson as saying, along with, “You Somali, go back to your country.”