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Minnesota Lawmaker Pat Garofalo Apologizes For NBA ‘Street Crime’ Tweet

Minnesota lawmaker Pat Garofalo is under fire for this tweet on March 9, 2014 about the NBA and its players. (Twitter/@PatGarofalo)

Minnesota lawmaker Pat Garofalo is under fire for this tweet on March 9, 2014 about the NBA and its players. (Twitter/@PatGarofalo)

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MINNEAPOLIS (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Minnesota legislator’s tweet about the NBA has prompted hundreds of responses, with many on social media calling it racist.

State Rep. Pat Garofalo sent a tweet Sunday that read: “Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.”

The Star Tribune reported that when asked about the tweet, the Farmington Republican said he was “talking about NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league that testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.”

Garofalo added: “No intent beyond that.”

More than 1,100 people retweeted it and hundreds more responded as of Monday morning. Many called the comment he made in the tweet racist.

Ryan Vernosh, Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year in 2010 according to his Twitter profile, responded:

Garofalo apologized in a statement released just before noon 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,” he said. “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.”

J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks was suspended five games this season after reportedly failing a third marijuana test.

“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,” Garofalo said. ” Again, I offer my sincere apologies for my comments.”

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)