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Human Rights Commission Meeting Minutes - January 19, 2023

The Regular Meeting of the Human Rights Commission of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, was held in the Commission Chambers at City Hall at 12:00 p.m., Thursday, January 19, 2023.

The Human Rights Commissioners present or absent were as follows:

Present: Matuor Alier, Carolyn Becraft, Sarah Boonstoppel, Nancy Boyle, Jacqueline Dotzenrod, Barry Nelson, Cheryl Schaefle, Cody Severson, Sekou Sirleaf.

Absent: Hamida Dakane.

Item 1. Welcome and Introductions
Chair Severson welcomed Members to the meeting and introductions were made.

Item 2. Approve Order of Agenda
Member Nelson moved the Order of Agenda be approved, flipping Item Nos. 7 and 8, tabling Item No. 9 and adding in its place an item to discuss forming Subcommittees. Second by Member Boonstoppel. All Members present voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Item 3. Approve Order of Minutes
Member Schaefle moved the minutes of the November 17, 2022 Human Rights Commission meeting be approved as presented. Second by Member Boyle. All Members present voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Item 4. Update from the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center.
Sarah Matthews, Executive Director at the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center, said their mission is to help children heal and gain justice from the abuse that they have endured. She said their goal is to train parents, educators and other professionals in our community on the signs of abuse and prevention techniques. These techniques, she said, are helping children to succeed and helping to make a better community for all.

Item 5. Update on Ahmed Shiil and his new role as DEI Coordinator.
Ahmed Shiil said it was an honor to have served on the Commission and thanked everyone for their commitment in serving on the Human Rights Commission.

Item 6. Update from Nominations Committee for Vice Chair role.
Member Becraft said she and Member Boonstoppel are co-chairing the Nominations Committee to fill the Vice Chair role on the Board. She said because the terms start in June, the HRC has a member who has graciously said that he would step in as Vice Chair, Matuor Alier, which will keep the Commission on the same cycle and allow for the Committee to work on the nominations in the meantime.
Member Boonstoppel said that if anyone is interested to let herself or Member Becraft know.

Item 7. Discussion item from Commissioner Dotzenrod on the carryover item on Ordinance No. 10-0322 - Harassment.
Member Dotzenrod said this item was referred to the City Commission for consideration and then referred back to the HRC to study the issue further and come back with a recommendation. She said after consulting with legal experts she learned that the word intent does need to be in the verbiage of the Ordinance.

Item 8. Discussion item from Commissioner Dotzenrod regarding wheelchair transportation accessibility.
Member Dotzenrod said the Fargo Moorhead area does not have any affordable options for short notice wheelchair accessible transportation. She said she did reach out to Uber and Lyft and while they do have programs available through those services there aren’t any available in this region. She said in the City of Bismarck they require their taxi license businesses to have at least one of their vehicles be a wheelchair accessible as well as the drivers being trained in their use. She said she has reached out to a couple of taxi cab services in Fargo and a couple of the businesses are looking into the service, but are not yet implementing those services.
Fargo City Commissioner John Strand said he holds the Transit portfolio and feels that this would be a great topic to bring to that department as well as the City Auditor who does the licensing for taxi cabs.

Item 9. Discussion item from David Hogenson “How we can move forward? Healing-Restoring Trust-Learning: creation of an audit to be conducted by a vetted and city-approved entity and offer education to the City and the community when an officer involved shooting or death takes place.” – This Item was Tabled.

Discussion on Subcommittees.
Member Schaefle said when you look at the mission that the Human Rights Commission was given there are several goals for the Commission. She said she would recommend that the HRC form Committees with the current members to pursue the different goals that the Commission has been tasked with.

Member Schaefle moved to form a small subcommittee to look at forming the Committees to do the work of the Human Rights Commission. Second by Member Nelson. All Members present voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Item 10. Barry Nelson will provide a legislative update.
Member Nelson said the Human Rights Commission has paid attention to what goes on in the City and also what goes on in the halls of the Legislature. He said this is a particularly busy session especially as it pertains to legislation that is impacting people that the Commission is most concerned about. Member Nelson provided an overview of what has happened so far in the Legislature.

Item 11. Cody Severson will provide an MLK Day celebration update.
Member Severson said it was a great event with a full house at the Fargo Theatre and he was very appreciative of Fred Edward’s work and curation of the event. He said they will start planning for next year’s event in the spring or early summer.

Item 12. Announcements
Chair Severson said he would like to schedule a Working Session on Wednesday, February 1st.

Item 13. Staff Updates
No staff updates were provided.

Item 14. Public Comment
Francis Sauvegeau spoke about the lack of affordable senior ride services in the City.

Reverend Karen Van Fossan spoke about Shane Netterville and the role the Human Rights Commission should take in that regard.

Christopher Coen spoke about Shane Netterville and the sending of a letter from the Human Rights Commission to the Department of Justice.

Victoria Johnson spoke about the possibility of the Human Rights Commission sponsoring a de-escalation trainer.

Item 15. Adjourn
The time at adjournment was 1:01 p.m.