Rumors of protests put JPD, SCSO on alert Sunday
Social media posts Sunday threatened racial protests and potential rioting in Jamestown placed law enforcement agencies on heightened alert, according to Scott Edinger, chief of the Jamestown Police Department.
"We tracked it down to people talking about it on Facebook," he said. "From there it blossomed."
Edinger said most of the people commenting on the posts were from Jamestown and it appeared that "some wanted it to happen."
The Jamestown Police Department and Stutsman County Sheriff's office kept officers on duty and called any officers who were out of town back to Jamestown to make sure local law enforcement agencies had the maximum manpower available in case of a protest or riot, said Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff.
"We had the whole department on standby," he said. "We got our deputies back from Fargo to get ready."
The sheriff's office and Jamestown Police Department had sent officers to Fargo Saturday to aid agencies there deal with protests and riots Saturday night.
Edinger said the Facebook posts that prompted concern in Jamestown said busloads of protesters were coming from Fargo to Jamestown to continue the activities. There were also calls to the Stutsman County Communications Center telling officers the buses had arrived and where they were unloading protestors.
"Where they were saying they were at we already had officers," he said. "We knew it wasn't true."
Edinger said the department also received calls of support from people within the community.
"The people were very cooperative," he said. "As soon as something was posted, people in the public forwarded it to the department so we knew what was being said."
The departments stayed on standby until they were positive there was no credible threat to the Jamestown community, Edinger said.
While there were no protest activities in Jamestown, there was one reported incident of graffiti vandalism on the Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center.
Edinger said the graffiti was likely the only crime committed during the incident saying the posts concerning possible protests constituted free speech.
Kaiser said the possibility of protests reaching Jamestown did not surprise him.
"When it hit Fargo it put everyone on edge," he said. "It didn't surprise me, we just have to be ready."
Edinger said the departments remain vigilant.
"If it rises to the level of a credible threat," he said, "we have resources that can help protect the city."