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Chair MatasCastillo statement on settlement agreements in Sullivan v. Ramsey County

On behalf of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners and this entire organization, I extend our profound apologies today to Devin Sullivan, Mohamud Salad, Timothy Ivory, Anabel Herrera, Stanley Hafoka, Nathaniel Gomez-Haustein, Cedric Dodds and Chelsea Cox.

On May 29, 2020, you experienced racial discrimination in the workplace while performing your professional duties within a facility managed by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. The actions taken by Sheriff’s Office leadership that day were more than just wrong – they were racist, heinous, highly disrespectful and completely out of line with Ramsey County’s vision and values. No one ever should have questioned your ability to perform your job based on the color of your skin.

As a board, we are deeply sorry for the trauma you experienced and the ongoing harm this racist incident caused. We recognize this apology will never undo the anguish and distress you’ve gone through as a result.

Let us take this moment to again affirm that the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners stands united against racism in all systems impacting our community. We refuse to tolerate discrimination of any kind anywhere in the county and work every day with the County Manager and the entire organization to transform these commitments from words into actions.

Based on this commitment, today we must once again call out and condemn this racist act committed by the Sheriff’s Office. We called on Sheriff Fletcher, as an independently elected official, to address these offenses when they occurred in 2020. We are still waiting. Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office employees, like all Ramsey County employees, deserve to work in an organization that responds decisively and without hesitation when clear wrongs such as this are committed.

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office must demonstrate accountability for the actions of May 29. The lack of any real apology from the Sheriff’s Office – and the fact that Steve Lydon remains, to this day, an appointed employee within the office – reflects poor leadership and perpetuates the systemic racism that allowed a decision such as this to occur. We renew our call on Sheriff Fletcher to take corrective action and all steps necessary to ensure professional, respectful and equitable service delivery moving forward.

As we call out this failure in leadership at the Sheriff’s Office, let us also be abundantly clear in our full support for the correctional officers and deputies who do outstanding work in service of this community on a daily basis. This incident should not reflect on you, nor should it diminish all the ways in which you treat our community with dignity and respect. Please know this county board stands by you and sincerely thanks you for your service.

In closing, we again express our apologies to Officers Sullivan, Salad, Ivory, Herrera, Hafoka, Gomez-Haustein, Dodds and Cox for the significant harm you’ve experienced. Ramsey County will continue to actively work to dismantle racism in our systems and policies as we strive to build an inclusive community in which all are truly valued and thrive.

Chair Trista MatasCastillo, District 3
Ramsey County Board of Commissioners

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Posted on Tuesday, August 9, 2022 - 9:11 a.m.