THE FUNERAL FOR KEN THOMPSON

When it was first brought to my attention that the family of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson invited me to his funeral, I accepted no doubt and thought that it was an honor and a privilege. What made the extremely kind gesture special to me was that I could think of no better way to pay tribute to Mr. Thompson for giving me something no other human being could give me. With all due respect to the many dignitaries at the funeral and those opn stage with me from Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the first lady of New York City, I wasn’t in awe of their presence. I was really focused on making sure that I remember why I was there. Although I was last to speak, and was not given much time to speak due to time constraints, it was good that I didn’t have a prepared speech. What I had to say about Mr. Thompson and to his family would come from my heart. Prior to being called to speak, I cried every time it was mentioned what Mr. Thompson did for those claiming innocence. One would have to appreciate the fact that I had spent a total of 29 years in prison, and on some levels, was literally at the end of my fight, when all of sudden, this man is elected district attorney of Brooklyn. I told the pack-filled audience how not only did Mr. Thompson give me back my life, he also gave me my five-month old daughter Quinn. I displayed emotion throughout the service, particularly when I would glance at Mr. Thompson’s two young children, his wife, and his mom and dad sitting in the front row. Much like I promised Dr. Rubin Hurricane Carter after he agreed to help me, I promised the Thompson family that I will never let them down and that I will continue to live a clean and productive life.

I had never attended a funeral before but it didn’t matter to me because once the service began, it felt more like a celebration of Mr. Thompson’s life. I believe the spirits were alive and well and drew me to Mr. Thompson. I talked about how I would stay up all hours of the night listening to campaign news after learning that Mr. Thompson was running for Brooklyn District Attorney. I talked about how I would often wake up the next morning feeling very tired but also feeling like it was all worth it. There were many promises made during the service by many people but the most significant promise made was by Acting District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez who promised that he would continue the work initiated by Mr. Thompson with respect to wrongful convictions. While it was obviously a very sad day, no doubt, I would hope that every person who attended the funeral service appreciated not only who we lost, but what we lost as well. Rest in peace Kenneth P. Thompson for you have earned your place among god’s greatest gifts to humanity.

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