Rudy Patch, until Monday night the mayor of the small town of Blackduck, Minnesota, has the dubious honor of becoming the second Minnesota city official to resign over his Facebook posts in as many weeks.
Patch says his was taken out of context.
The first was Vadnais Heights City Council member Craig Johnson, who had a cornucopia of memes targeting Muslims, queer people, and trans people all over his page until Tuesday, when he adjusted his privacy settings and abruptly stepped down.
Patch, meanwhile, undid his career with a single meme appearing on his Facebook page in the wake of protests spurred by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. It pictured what appeared to be a blood-soaked silver Jeep and the caption, “I don’t know what you mean by protesters on the freeway; I came through no problem.”
In a terrifying scene on Sunday evening, a man driving a gas tanker truck on 35W in Minneapolis drove into a crowd of protesters, scattering thousands in what looked initially like a potential deliberate attack.
A screenshot of the post, which had vanished from Patch’s page by Monday afternoon, included a comment that said, “[Making] a joke of human life. [You’re] the fucking [mayor.]”
The post quickly reached the ears of the city council, which scheduled an emergency meeting on the subject to take place Monday evening. The meeting was canceled later in the day, after Patch presumably beat the council to the punch by resigning.
Patch released a short letter, which was also shared on Facebook.
“I have made a mistake by sharing a post without the correct context behind it,” Patch wrote. “The post was in reference to a conversation I had the night before. I ran across the post the next day and wanted to share it with that person.”
He said he “did not like the post” and did not see it as funny, and did not support “running over protesters” – rather, he wanted “the individual to recognize how bad it could be to drive through protesters.”
“I believe ALL lives matter,” he said.
He also wrote he’d like to “get training available to myself and anyone who has interest in learning more about racism,” and that he is “accepting the responsibility of his mistake.”
You can read the letter in its entirety here.