FARGO — OneFargo organizer Wess Philome says city leaders are not living up to promises made and that it’s time to march again.
“There isn’t enough being done,” Philome said Tuesday, June 16, at a news conference. “Mayor Mahoney is no longer communicating with us directly.”
Philome said a letter of intent lays out an agreement between OneFargo and the mayors of Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead to begin addressing racial discrepancies in the community. Philome said the letter was to have been signed June 5 after the OneFargo rally in Island Park where the group's demands were read aloud for the first time.
Along with Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis and Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd are included in the letter. Dardis told The Forum he had not heard of the letter.
“I answer my phone, and I don’t screen my calls. With all due respect to them ... nobody asked me and nobody mentioned anything to me, none whatsoever. Not Mayor Mahoney. Not Mayor Judd. Not OneFargo,” Dardis said Tuesday.
Attempts to obtain comments from Judd, Mahoney and Fargo Police Chief David Todd for this story Tuesday were not successful. Mahoney and Todd plan to speak to news reporters Wednesday, June 17, about these issues, city spokesman Gregg Schildberger said.
Philome placed blame on police for the May 30 riot in downtown Fargo, saying that law enforcement have an "us versus them" mentality. He attempted to show evidence of the mentality by sharing Todd's emails obtained through public records requests. Schildberger confirmed the emails Philome referenced were authentic.
“I have this sick feeling we are about to be in a war like they are in many other parts of the country,” Todd wrote in a June 6 email to officers. “We got a taste of this last Friday. It will become more organized and more vicious — you can count on that.”
In a June 1 email to officers, Todd thanked those who helped respond to the May 30 riot. "You guys ... helped us save our city from these thugs/domestic terrorists and I couldn't be more grateful,” Todd wrote.
“We are not thugs,” Black Lives Matter organizer Faith Dixon said Tuesday. “We are not domestic terrorists. Black Lives Matter is not a thuggish, terrorist act. We are people of the community. We just want transparency. We want the truth.”
OneFargo and Black Lives Matter organizers are planning two marches this week.
One march is Friday, June 19, or Juneteenth, a celebration of black Americans' freedom from slavery, and the mayoral letter of intent will be marched to City Hall for Mahoney to sign, Philome said.
The Juneteenth march will be peaceful, with organizers “strategically positioned” in the crowd and in downtown along the route to protect businesses, Philome said.
“I want to speak to anyone who thinks they’re going to show up and destroy a single thing, we will descend upon you,” Philome said. “This is our community, a community that we’re trying to make better.”
The second march is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 20, at the Johnson Soccer Complex near North Dakota State University, Black Lives Matter organizer Frederick Edwards said.
Saturday’s march will be more of a protest, Edwards said. "We believe we need to come together and protest and shout and scream about the things going on in our community,” Edwards said.
Fargo police are preparing for the two marches and could not give details on their response, police spokeswoman Jessica Schindeldecker said Tuesday.