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Gross misdemeanor charge filed after an incident during last Friday’s rallies

FERNDALE, Wash. — An incident caught on video during 2 rallies in downtown Ferndale on Friday, July 31st, has resulted in 1 person being charged with 3rd degree malicious mischief, a gross misdemeanor.

A rally to support Ferndale Police gathered at 4th Avenue and Main Street and another rally to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement gathered at Centennial Riverside Park. Both gatherings were held between about 4:30pm and 7pm on Friday.

A group of about a dozen people took up a position on the north side of Main Street, opposite the Black Lives Matter rally. While most in the group kept to themselves, a few jeered at those attending the BLM rally and some at the BLM rally took up opposing positions on the south side of Main Street, adding jeers of their own in response.

About 6pm, a video taken by a person standing on the south side of Main Street records 2 people as they cross Main Street from the north to the south. Moments later a scuffle appears to break out around those same 2 people on the south sidewalk.

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2 people are seen on a video recording as they approach the Black Lives Matter support rally (July 31, 2020).
A video recorded Ferndale Police officers as they break up a scuffle occurring during a Black Lives Matter support rally (July 31, 2020).

Ferndale Police officers monitoring the rallies immediately responded to the scuffle, separating all parties and instructing those who crossed from the north side of Main Street to return there.

As the first person seen crossing Main Street turns to head back to the north side of the street, he is recorded as he grabs or swats at the video camera. The camera records its fall to the sidewalk and then the man as he crosses the road.

According to the victim, the camera, a GoPro video camera capable of 360-degree recording, was mounted on an extender pole. The extender and a protective case the camera was in were damaged but not the camera. He estimated the damage at $90.

After an investigation during the days following that included the video recording, Ferndale Police “identified Chad A. Schmitt as the individual who intentionally damaged the property of another,” according to a statement released today, August 7th. Schmitt was contacted on August 6th by Ferndale Police and issued a citation for suspicion of 3rd degree malicious mischief and instructed to appear in Ferndale Municipal Court according to the statement.

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Gross misdemeanors are punishable in Washington State by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

No other citations or charges have been reported as a result of the scuffle.

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