Attorneys representing the family at the center of controversy over the arrest last month of an African-American woman and her two teen daughters by a white officer are encouraging the public to boycott the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
The family of Jacqueline Craig and their supporters believe that city officials — who held a community meeting Thursday night in an effort to ease tensions — are ignoring key community issues with their response to the incident. Therefore, they contend, the Stock Show, one of the city’s best-known and -attended annual events, should be targeted to force the city to change its stance.
“It’s not that we’re being heard or our positions are being considered,” said Lee Merritt, a lawyer defending the family. “They are checking a box.”
Jacqueline Craig, who is a 46-year-old mother, and her two teenage daughters were arrested on Dec. 21 and a video of the arrest has been viewed on social media more than 3.3 million times. Craig and her daughters face charges of resisting arrest and interference with a public servant.
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The officer who initiated the arrest, William Martin, has been suspended without pay for 10 days by Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald wants Martin to return to police Craig’s southwest Fort Worth neighborhood when the suspension ends.
Many at the meeting Thursday night said they do not want Martin back in the neighborhood. Fitzgerald has characterized Martin’s actions during the Dec. 21 arrest as inappropriate, sarcastic and rude.
“The community spoke really with one voice,” Merritt said. “They don’t want that officer returned to their community. The response was the decision has already been made. That’s not listening, that’s dictating.”
The mayor’s office declined to comment on a boycott, and a police spokesman said of the effort that “people are free to purchase goods and services wherever they please.”
Merritt said the Craig family demands that Martin be fired, that Martin not return to the community where the Dec. 21 arrest was made should he remain a police officer, that charges against the Craig family be dropped and that the neighbor accused of assaulting Craig’s 7-year-old son be arrested.
Merritt also called for a boycott of the Cowboys of Color Rodeo, which starts at 2 p.m. Monday.
“We are not supporting that event or any event in the city of Fort Worth until the city meets our demands,” Merritt said.