County asked to review procedures after eviction altercation

Greg Larry, Cumberland Times-News, Md.
·2 min read

Apr. 10—CUMBERLAND — Representatives of the Allegany County NAACP branch asked county officials Thursday for transparency following an altercation between sheriff's office deputies and citizens during a recent eviction.

A video posted to social media showed the chaotic incident, reportedly at a Hickory Avenue property in Bowling Green on April 5.

Evictions routinely include the presence of deputies to provide oversight.

Sheriff Craig Robertson issued a statement Tuesday that the matter was under review.

NAACP representatives filed an official complaint with the sheriff's office in regard to the handling of the incident.

"With the complaint having been lodged, it will trigger a transition from a review to an investigation," said Lee Beeman, county attorney.

Beeman said the review will examine what type of weaponry was allegedly deployed. However, county officials said they were unable to provide additional details with the investigation ongoing.

"What we saw on April 5 was heartbreaking," Tifani Fisher, Allegany County NAACP branch president, said.

"I understand that there has been a divide put in the county and across the nation that you either have to support police officers or support those who are against police officers. That is not what the NAACP is here for and that is not who I am as a person."

Fisher added, "Wouldn't it have been better for the county to have some sort of resource officer, a social worker, there ... someone who can say you have to leave today but here is where you can go for help?

"I'm not asking you to simply look at this and say our officers did nothing wrong. I'm asking you to look at this and say how can our officers do better. Please get back to us with a plan and transparency."

Evan West, local NAACP treasurer, said, "Marginalized communities are not afforded the same access to mechanisms of power in a community as those who are not marginalized. What is clearly being asked for here is transparency in this process. What does it entail and what does it look like?

"This is a home rule county — you can come with policies that impact agencies you oversee. This is an opportunity to reach out and repair harm and it is not an opportunity that should be missed. I hope you take to heart what you heard from the folks in this marginalized community and that you find a way to help unify and stand with them."

Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.