On July 25 a 15 year old Fargo girl says she was the victim of excessive force perpetrated by the Fargo, ND police department while she was charging a cell phone in a family member’s car in front of her older sister’s residence. The 15 year old says that she was approached by two Fargo Police officers who accused her of smoking marijuana and claimed they could smell cannabis. She says she told the officers that she was not smoking marijuana but retrieving her sister’s phone and charger from the car when the officers dragged her from the car and handcuffed her causing excruciating pain to her arms and wrists, which she said were pulled too forcefully and too far up, and to her wrists which she said were handcuffed too tightly causing her circulation to be cut off. The 15 year old girl also stated that during the violent and painful arrest, her head was repeatedly pounded into the hood of the parked car outside her sister’s house, then they wrestled her to the ground with additional officers who arrived on the scene, (4 participating in the arrest and 13 officers in total), hog tied her and put her in the back seat of a squad car. Neighbors and family members who witnesses the arrest expressed concern at the force used to handle this 15 year old girl and confirmed the screams of pain and caused by the treatment she received at the hands of the Fargo Police Department officers.
Watch the video of this young lady’s story and her family here:
Although the officers initial contact was allegedly due to the smell of marijuana, no officer involved in the arrest claims to have seen this 15 year old smoking, nor was there any urinalysis or blood test performed on her while she was held in detention for 3 days from July 25th to the 27th. The teen also stated that she repeatedly requested to go to the hospital but was not given any medical assistance beyond ice packs, aspirin, and a brief visit by a nurse whose examination consisted of touching her wrists.
The family is just one of many folks living in the Countryside Park mobile home area that expressed concerns of police profiling, and misconduct. Several of the residents expressed concerns of routine “stop and frisk” type contacts with minors in the area, especially where no parents have been contacted and no warrants are issued.
The People’s Press Project (PPP), a media justice non-profit serving the Fargo-Moorhead area, responded to this community concern by setting up skill trainings with area residents to help them better understand their communication and community journalism rights and best practices. Area residents are invited to participate in the discussion about concerns of police practices and accountability. To that end, the PPP will be holding trainings, webinars, and community response actions in connection with the #CopCoverage campaign that will empower residents to discuss concerns about police interactions, share their stories, and seek remedies together with local law enforcement entities so that together police and community members can shape the face of community policing in the Fargo-Moorhead region.
To get updates on this story and others shared with PPP and the #CopCoverage campaign please visit the PPPs website at: fmppp.org
Folks in the community are encouraged to share their digital, video, or audio stories of any alleged police misconduct with the PPP. Find the link to share your story, video, audio recording, or other media here: http://thepeoplespressproject.org/cop-coverage
The People’s Press Project is also kicking off a series of trainings that will empower local community journalists and members. Check our website if you can’t attend our first meetings, for information about upcoming meetings and webinars.
How To Do #CopCoverage – Training will take place Sunday Sept. 7 at Fargo Public Library from 3-5pm in the Fercho room in downtown Fargo. This training is for anyone in the community who want to learn more about what their communication rights are and how to exercise their rights to film in public and share their stories in the most effective way. This event is free and open to the public.
*UPDATE: 4/17/16 – Interviews with Isabel Escobedo, the girl’s mother, indicate the police dropped all charges against the 15 year old in 2015.