Swanton woman calls for resignation of police chief amid discrimination claims
SWANTON, Ohio (WTVG) - Local activists and a local woman are calling for Swanton’s police chief to resign. Anika Fields claims she’s faced years of racist, threatening, and aggressive behavior from her neighbors and that the police chief told her to move.
Fields moved to Paigelynn Place in 2015 and says the neighbors have lobbed racial threats toward her family.
“They have used racial epithets toward us as well, one time in front of the police chief,” says Fields. “They have physically threatened us, again one of those times the police chief heard it and confirmed he heard it.”
Fields claims police chief Adam Berg has refused to file ethnic intimidation charges and she is concerned for the safety of her family.
“They have physically charged us and come in large groups. He said I can just arrest you both,” Fields accuses. “He’s been very complicit and done a lot to try and intimidate me instead of treating me as the victim. He’s criminalized and demonized me and told me to move out of Swanton.”
“It’s very unfortunate someone like Anika cannot come into a majority white community like this and feel comfortable and she’s being harassed,” says Christine Rodriguez of The Fair Housing Center.
“We spoke with them at their council meetings only to find indifference,” adds local activist Brother Washington Muhammad. “Only to find neglect. Only to find an uncaring spirit and attitude.”
Fields reached out to both the Fair Housing Center and Muhammad for help. She says she is fed up but is not giving up.
“We shouldn’t have to move somewhere else because of the fact that someone else is intolerant or they don’t want us in here or they think they can control and patrol black bodies,” she says.
13abc reached out to Chief Berg and the Village of Swanton to respond to Fields’ claims. In a statement sent to our newsroom, Chief Berg says:
The Village of Swanton considers transparency critical to the public’s trust. Recent inquires to the Village of Swanton, regarding police reports and certain cases, compelled Officials to provide more detailed information to the public as a means to a common perspective on certain matters.
Officials, with the Village of Swanton, have engaged in dialogue with Ms. Fields for over a year. In early 2020, Ms. Fields and Officials met to discuss her concerns and claims. From this meeting, the Village presented ways to address the concerns and claims.
Ms. Fields requested Village employees undergo training to learn more about diversity and inclusion. In 2020, Village employees, across all Divisions, engaged in this training led by a third party organization based out of Maumee.
Ms. Fields made multiple claims against the Village of Swanton, specifically related to treatment by Police Officers. Understanding the severity of these claims, the Village of Swanton offered to pay for a third party to look into them. To date, this offer still stands but has not been pursued further by Ms. Fields. The Village of Swanton understands the COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted this.
The Village of Swanton takes all calls and concerns seriously; each case is investigated independently of another. Police officers strive to be fair and consistent to all parties involved. Officers are tasked with protecting the safety of all Village residents and they will continue to do so in the future.
All those at the Village of Swanton respect and value members in the community. We welcome more dialogue and engagement to work towards and accomplish shared goals. We hold ourselves to the highest standards and will continue to as we look forward.
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