FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – One day after officials said the Fort Worth Office of Police Oversight stands ready to assist residents, a local organization claims dozens of protesters arrested while participating in a march against police brutality experienced inhumane treatment while in the Tarrant County Jail.
United Fort Worth, a group that says they advocate for equity and justice, says after at least 50 people were released from custody they consistently made ‘alarming’ claims that included:
- Being subjected to strip searches where they were asked to spread their buttocks
- Given no access to soap
- Given no opportunity for social distancing
- Enduring derogatory, dehumanizing comments by jailers
- Experiencing severe overcrowding and witnessing under-staffing
- Have personal property damaged
According to United Fort Worth, demonstrators recounted incidents of ‘disrespectful and abusive treatment’ that included shaming and belittling by jail staff. “These people were merely exercising their constitutional right to protest. Yet once taken into custody, they were subject to full-body strip searches. United Fort Worth denounces this as a form of official oppression meant to scare the people into silence,” the group said in a statement.
The accusations come after days of protests over the death of George Floyd and racial injustice continue across Texas and the country. Floyd died last week while being arrested in Minneapolis. Video captured then police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, even after he appeared to lose consciousness.
It was earlier this year when the City of Fort Worth named its first police monitor — Kim Neal. On Tuesday a post on the city website said the office is ready to assist residents.
A statement on the city’s website said, in part, “Whether residents have concerns regarding alleged misconduct by Fort Worth Police Department personnel or want to share accolades about officers, the city’s Office of the Police Oversight Monitor is open and ready to hear from them.”
Some of the issues relegated to the Office of the Police Oversight Monitor include:
- Complaint/commendation intake, review, audit and mediation
- FWPD policies/procedures/practices review and analysis
- Community engagement/information dissemination regarding the office and its components
- Collaborated problem-solving efforts
Anyone wanting to make contact with the Oversight Monitor can do so through email or by calling 817-392-6535.
CBSDFW.COM has reached out to the Tarrant County Jail for comment about the abuse and neglect claims but has yet to receive a response.
Organizers with United Fort Worth say they are one of several community groups asked to provide guidance on the establishment of a Community Police Oversight Board and they have had contact with the Oversight Office in reference to the claims made after the recent protest arrests. The group also says they are also in the process of notifying city officials about their concerns.
Until Neal was made Oversight Monitor in January, Fort Worth was the largest city in Texas without an independent police oversight board or office.