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Vandalized memorial to fallen Minn. officer restored

Two St. Paul Police Historical Society members restored a memorial to a murdered officer over the weekend after it was vandalized last year

By Mara H. Gottfried
Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Two St. Paul Police Historical Society members restored a memorial to a murdered officer over the weekend after it was vandalized last year.

They repainted the inscription on the granite boulder for Maplewood Sgt. Joseph Bergeron that is near Lake Phalen and the Bruce Vento Regional Trail in St. Paul, about 100 feet from where an armed carjacker killed him in 2010.

"We had talked about doing this a long time and ... I'm sure the funeral of officer Patrick spurred it a little bit, saying, 'OK, let's get it done.' ... It was time to do it, " said Tim Bradley, a retired St. Paul police officer and historical society member.

Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick was fatally shot during a traffic stop on July 30, and his funeral was last week.

Bergeron's memorial, a 30-ton granite boulder, was placed at Arlington Avenue and English Street about five months after the Maplewood sergeant was killed. It was dedicated in November 2010 and an inscription had been sandblasted into the rock, "With heartfelt gratitude, the community reclaims this earth as sacred ground to honor a peaceful warrior."

In November, the memorial was found defaced with white paint. No one has been arrested. St. Paul police said Monday that they are still trying to solve the case, asking anyone with information to call them at 651-266-5565.

Ramsey County parks and recreation workers power-washed the monument after the vandalism, a spokeswoman said. Bradley said he was glad they got the white paint off it, but the process also removed a lot of the black monument paint that made the inscription readable.

Bradley and Linda Schwartzbauer, who is also involved with the police historical society and is the wife of a Ramsey County sheriff's deputy, spent about three hours Saturday repainting the 200-plus characters on the boulder. It was careful, deliberate work, Bradley said.

Bradley and Schwartzbauer didn't want attention for doing it — "we almost wanted to do it in the middle of the night, but we figured that probably wouldn't be a smart idea," Bradley said.

"It's about a fallen officer, it's about his family, it's about a community trying to heal and it's about taking a tragic situation and returning it to sacred ground," Bradley said. "We can't change what happened but we can make a statement that, 'No, this is not acceptable. This is our community; you're not going to change it because you do something so cold-hearted.' "

Copyright 2014 the Pioneer Press 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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