Aug 25, 2014 - Three Police Guns and a Baby, By Cindy Gomez-Schempp
On July 25, 2014, 13 Fargo, ND police officers were dispatched to arrest one 15 year old girl. She claimed Fargo police used excessive force. Officers said they smelled marijuana. She reportedly told officers she was retrieving her sister’s phone and charger from the car but was still dragged her from the car, had her head beat on the hood of a car, and was handcuffed and hogtied causing excruciating pain to her arms, wrists and ankles. (See original story here)
A week and a half later, the 15 year old’s mom went to the police department with her lawyer to request a complaint form from the Fargo Police concerning the brutal arrest of her innocent 15 year old daughter. The day after she met with the Fargo Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards, her car was pulled over by an unmarked police vehicle. She was ready to record because she had been reporting repeated harassment from police toward her family members, especially those who witnessed and reported on her daughter’s arrest.
While giving her friend a ride, she was boxed in and detained by a hoard of police cars during a traffic stop on the vehicle ahead of her (which her passenger’s daughter and boyfriend were traveling in). During the stop officers drew their guns at unarmed occupants including a three year old toddler. A recent Nation article cited what every U.S. Marine knows: That you never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot. Neither the Ferguson nor the Fargo police have been advised of this important distinction.
The disturbing encounter for this embattled Fargo mother, included three guns pulled on the scene against unarmed travelers; one of them a three year old child. The person they arrested did not resist arrest, made his hands visible, and did not pose any visible threat to officers. The mother of the 15 year old recently reporting excessive force claims that she is now being subjected to constant surveillance and harassment as a result of exposing police misconduct to media. The unmarked police vehicle that detained both cars had been sitting outside her home “all day”, and she suspected it as a surveillance vehicle once she left the mobile home park where she lives and noticed it was following her.
The victim’s mother reported that she was detained and harassed by police (the squad car she was placed in the back of belonged to the officer who she saw assault her daughter), and given a $20 citation as retaliation for filming her police encounter and her prior report to media about police misconduct, even though she was not the subject of the traffic stop that she was trapped in.
The toddler in the vehicle has vivid first memories of her encounter with police, and as you can see from her response to the question, “Did you see the police today?”, she isn’t pleased with the memory. Although just three years old, her earliest memories of police officers will be emblazoned with this early experience of the Fargo Police.
In a continuing effort to make community policing more transparent and communities of color more secure, as well as a way to begin a dialogue about police militarization and the deeper discussion on how we want to be protected and served, the People’s Press Project will be hosting a series of trainings, webinars, community actions and an Indiegogo Fundraiser to procure camera equipment and training to impoverished Fargo communities that lack access to information and technology to protect themselves from police abuse and brutality.
The People’s Press Project (PPP), is a media justice non-profit serving the Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN area. PPP has launched a community response to numerous claims of excessive force by the Fargo Police department. The PPP has responded with educational trainings empowering residents with an understanding of their civil, communication and community journalism rights and best practices.
This project benefits anyone who wants to learn their communication rights, the public’s rights to film and record in public, and how to exercise them. We also aim to help the public share their stories in the most effective ways. The PPP will be holding trainings, webinars, and community response actions in connection with the #CopCoverage campaign empowering residents to discuss concerns about police interactions, sharing their stories, and seeking 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.
The People’s Press Project is kicking off a series of trainings that will empower local community journalists and members. Check for updates on the People’s Press Project and Mexi-can.org facebook pages and websites if you can’t attend our first meetings, and follow @Media_PPP on twitter for more information about upcoming meetings, training opportunities, community actions and webinars at www.fmppp.org
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 free and open to 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.
When: Sunday, September 7, 2014 3:00 to 5:00 PM
Where: Downtown Fargo Public Library, Fercho Room
This event is free and open to the public.
Fundraiser: PPP is also conducting an online fundraiser on indiegogo.com to fund camera equipment to train and equip community members to expose civil rights abuses by the Fargo PD, via #CopCoverage with audio and video recording devices.
See the Fundraiser at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fund-the-copcoverage-campaign