Amid the protests demanding justice for George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and all of the black people who have been killed by racist police brutality, calls for police reform have intensified around the country and here in Fargo.
Local advocacy organizations say that reform starts at the top.
As city leaders prepare to hire Fargo’s next police chief, residents have the opportunity to apply to be on the selection committee. But if the city of Fargo is serious about racial justice and real police reform, leaders need to commit to ensuring diverse voices are heard, according to the ACLU of North Dakota, the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and the North Dakota Voice Network.
One way to do that is to reserve two of the committee’s four community representative spots for members of Fargo’s Black Lives Matters movement and the OneFargo coalition, a group of local activists dedicated to unite the city in the fight against racism.
“Fundamentally, these protests began because of a mistrust between our black community and police and race remains a critical dividing line in our society,” said Dane DeKrey, advocacy director for the ACLU of North Dakota. “Hiring a new police chief is an important decision for the city of Fargo. Creating a diverse selection committee that includes representatives from OneFargo and Black Lives Matter will yield a thoughtful, intentional hiring process. If these voices are not part of the conversation, nothing is going to change.”
Fargo’s new police chief will oversee several aspects of the police department, including a $22.8 million budget, all personnel and the handling of police misconduct, and the training of future police officers. Picking a reform-minded chief could be the first step toward real police reform in Fargo.
Applications for the selection committee are due June 21 and can be found here: https://fargond.gov/city-government/boards-commissions/police-chief-selection-committee
About the ACLU of North Dakota
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of North Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes South Dakota and Wyoming. The team in North Dakota is supported by staff in those states.
The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of North Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of North Dakota.
About the North Dakota Voices Network
The North Dakota Voices Network works to advance social, racial, and economic justice across North Dakota by collaborating with and strengthening the state's forward-thinking advocacy and activist communities.
About the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition
The North Dakota Human Rights Coalition is a statewide, membership-based organization established to increase the visibility of human rights needs and violations, and to change laws and attitudes that stand as barriers to residents within North Dakota who do not currently enjoy their full rights.