Protest at City Hall Finally Gets Crystal’s Attention

October 14, 2012 at 11:57 am 3 comments

Tuesday, October 2nd, the group Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) held a rally outside of Crystal City Hall. About 60 people gathered on the corners of 42nd and Douglas Ave. N., holding signs that read “Even the Chief has to follow the law”, Why the cover-up?”, and “Why won’t you meet with the community?”. There were three Robbinsdale police cars, a couple of sheriff’s deputies, and many Crystal police present in front of Crystal City Hall.

At 7:00, the group moved inside of the City Council chambers to bring their case to the Crystal City Council. Over the next 45 minutes, I heard a tale unravel that was difficult to believe it happened right here in our town. The story begins with the much-maligned West Metro Gang Strikeforce, and Brooklyn Park officer Greg Burstad. According to reports, Officer Burstad had been following the Ramirez family, when one day he allegedly assaulted the grandfather, Norberto, and without a warrant busted into the Ramirez home with Norberto’s key and forcibly evicted the family from their home. Burstad changed the locks, keeping the Ramirez family out of their house for four days, and when they returned, all of their possessions were gone.

The Ramirez family reported Officer Burstad’s actions to the Crystal police, but there was no action taken on these reports for the last three years. The report from CUAPB alleges that the detective assigned to the case admitted to being under pressure not to investigate. Then Crystal City Manager Anne Norris was contacted to file complaints about the resistance to move forward with an investigation. She has, reportedly, told CUAPB that they will not meet, after cancelling two other meetings. After this story was relayed, and others came to speak in support of the family, the Crystal City Council did what it does best. They insulted and chastised those that came to speak their concerns. Councilmember Mark Hoffman (Ward 2) said that, “You are not involved in the investigation, because you went public” and that the demonstration was “cheap on their part”. Mayor ReNae Bowman feigned that she was scared and felt threatened because of “the sense of intimidation from this group”, because they said they would come back if there was no investigation. Anyone with any sense of reasoning knew that they meant they would not forget about the Ramirez family, and would attend future Council meetings as need be, to see an investigation occur. Mayor Bowman’s constant disdain for anyone that confronts her is really something of an art form to behold.

The Council said they have only known about this for three weeks. I believe that. Anne Norris, however, is an employee of the Council, and takes her directives from them. According to an e-mail from Anne, there is an internal investigation going on. One where no one, including the family, can get any answers until the entire investigation is complete. We will continue to follow up, and try to find an answer.

Officer Greg Burstad, by the way, is currently suspended from the Brookyn Park police force (by the City of Brooklyn Park), and the Ramirez family has received a small settlement from a class action lawsuit against the West Metro Gang Strikeforce. Unfortunately, this does not replace the Ramirez’s belongings. It seems to me that an investigation should have been started years ago. Why has Crystal been stalling?


Entry filed under: Community, Crystal, Mayor. Tags: , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael C. Libby  |  October 25, 2012 at 8:14 am

    If you live in Section 1 and want to see this type of thing change, you should vote Laura Libby. She participated in the protest and was the first to address the council about the matter! Mark Hoffmann scolded the protestors for standing up for citizens’ civil rights and has now endorsed Laura’s opponent. One of his primary reasons for endorsing the other guy is that Laura didn’t do enough to get both sides of the story? That’s nonsense. How do you get both sides of a story when one side is stonewalling?

  • […] up for themselves over standing up for the rights of the people of Crystal.  You can see the council meeting at this link (scroll down to open forum), read the Sun Post article about it at this link, and see what […]

  • 3. Michelle Gross  |  November 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Thank you for your excellent coverage of this issue. One tiny correction–Burstad assaulted the grandson, Adrian, in the front yard as he was walking to the front door. After throwing him to the ground and handcuffing him, Burstad reached in Adrian’s pocket and stole his keys. Burstad would later claim the search was “consentual.” When he opened the door, Norberto was knocked down. Burstad stepped on his head and broke his teeth.

    Thank you, too, for pointing out the incredibly disingenuous reaction of the council members and mayor. They were indignant that we would dare to “go public” even though they had 3.5 years to do the right thing in private and had failed along the way. Keep in mind that we engaged in absolutely legal First Amendment-protected activities. Their response? To have a cop photograph us as we entered the public meeting.

    We would like your readers to know that we will be back at the city council meeting–on November 20–because the city still is not conducting a proper investigation, despite their claims to the contrary. They have not asked to interview any members of the Ramirez family, nor have they asked to interview the individual who was told by the investigator that he was being pressured not to investigate. What kind of investigation fails to connect with key witnesses? This appears to be more of a whitewash than an actual investigation.

    Yes, we’ll be back on November 20th, to continue to seek answers and engage in the democratic process. Let’s see if the city council is still afraid of a little democracy…


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