Three more charged in connection to Fargo riot

Protesters and rioters where mixed throughout the crowds in downtown Fargo May 30..jpg
Rioters overturned dumpsters and threw rocks at police on First Avenue North on May 30 in downtown Fargo. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

FARGO — Three more people have been charged in connection to the May 30 riot in downtown Fargo.

Cass County prosecutors filed charges on Friday, Aug. 7, against Fargo residents Nicolai Kevin Westrum, 20 and Vyamungu Claude, 23, as well as Zachariah Michael Vernon Coss, 22, of Alexandria, Minn.

Of the three, Westrum faces the most serious charges connected to the protest that turned violent in the downtown area. Video allegedly shows Westrum jumping up and down on top of a dumpster before throwing rocks at officers, according to court documents. He was also seen throwing chairs out of JL Beers and causing more than $18,000 in damage, the court documents alleged.

He was charged with felonies of arming rioters and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, both of which carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, as well as attempted assault on a police officer, which can carry a five-year prison sentence. He also faces several misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass, engaging in a riot and disobedience to public orders during a riot.


Nicholai Westrum

Coss was charged with a felony of burglary, as well as misdemeanor charges of engaging in a riot and disobedience to public orders, after police said he went into JL Beers and filled his pockets with beer bottles, according to court documents.

Despite being masked, police said they were able to identify Coss using photos from the protest posted on his Facebook profile, specifically with an image that showed his tattoo that says “Drunk Life,” and comparing them to drone footage and other videos, court documents said.

Claude faces misdemeanor charges of engaging in a riot and disobedience after police said he took a garbage can and threw it down the street, according to court documents. Police also alleged he threw objects at officers.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 11, about two dozen protesters have been charged in connection to the riot. A mugshot for Claude was unavailable.

Zachariah Michael Vernon Coss

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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