The city of St. Paul, Ramsey County and Forecast Public Art will unveil the Larry Cohen Recognition Project at Ramsey County Courthouse/St. Paul City Hall Plaza at a special event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18.
The county and city established the project to honor the legacy and work of Judge Larry Cohen, who devoted his life to promoting diverse and inclusive leadership as chair of the Ramsey County Board, mayor of St. Paul, and chief judge of the 2nd Judicial District (Ramsey County). Cohen died in 2016 at age 83.
The project is on the southeast corner of the City Hall and Courthouse building (Kellogg Boulevard and Wabasha Street). Designed by artist Marjorie Pitz, it will serve as a welcoming place where people can learn about St. Paul’s rich immigrant history and the values and work of Cohen.
The son of first-generation immigrants, Larry Cohen was raised in St. Paul and attended Central High School, the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Law School. He was the chair and commissioner on the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners (1970-1972), mayor of St. Paul (1972-1976), and the chief judge of the Ramsey County District Court (1988-2002), earning the distinction of holding the highest position in all three branches of local government.
As chair of the Ramsey County Board, he identified and resolved pay equity issues. As mayor, he created affirmative action policies for people of color, women and people with disabilities in city government. As chief judge, Cohen formed a strong relationship with Hmong leaders, helping address issues in culturally appropriate ways. He also implemented measures to make the justice system properly serve Hmong people and other non-English speaking citizens and was instrumental in the promotion of restorative justice.