Just Voices: Please show up for racial justice!

For the last 3 years, Just Voices Iowa, in collaboration with Iowa-CCI’s Racial Justice Team have been demanding the Des Moines City Council make serious police reform to stem racially-biased policing in our city.  We are at another turning point after talks with the City Manager Scott Sanders and Police Chief Dana Wingert failed to produce any commitment to make changes like establishing a Community Review Board or lowering the priority on Marijuana possession enforcement among other “asks”.

In addition, in recent months Just Voices Iowa has come into the possession of video tapes showing police violence during the Summer of 2020 Protests and even the beating of a mentally-challenged Black man in September 2021.  This violence coupled with lawsuits by 5 female officers, over $1.5 million in lawsuit settlements, and poor leadership from the Chief has led us to demand these two urgent changes. We are demanding:

  1. An independent, 3rd party investigation of the DMPD over the last 5 years – this would include a thorough look at the Summer of 2020 protests in Des Moines and the police response, among other behaviors and misconduct.
  2. The establishment, by ordinance, of a Community Review Board, like Cedar Rapids has successfully done, to ensure impartial civilian oversight and accountability going forward.

But we need YOUR help. PLEASE do the following asap:

  • Attend the next City Council meeting on Monday, May 9th at 4:30 pm to show solidarity and support for these demands. Meetings are held at City Hall, 400 Robert D. Ray Drive. Parking can be found in a ramp across the street ($1 per hour) or at the parking meters.
  • Call, email, or write a letter to all of the Des Moines City Council members and Mayor Cownie stating the two demands noted above. You’ll find their contact information here.

Public Works LLC Releases Study of Data Collection by the Des Moines Police

After 6 months of study the highly anticipated report by Public Works LLC was released to the Des Moines City Manager and City Council on April 26th.  The study, entitled “Law Enforcement Data Report”, is over 200 pages and evaluates the current state of data collection by the DMPD, shares promising practices, includes a needs assessment and makes dozens of recommendations for improvement.

Just Voices Iowa attended the April 27th Des Moines City Council work session to hear the presentation of the report from Public Works, LLC founder and executive director, Eric Schnurer. The report recommended the ‘Top 5 Strategies for Data-Informed Law Enforcement that the Des Moines Police Department should practice:

  1. Commit to a data-informed culture.
  2. Make data accountable.
  3.  Make data analytic.
  4.  Make data transparent.
  5.  Make data actionable.

You can find the report on the Just Voices Iowa website here.

If you’d like to view the presentation by Public Works, here’s the link. Start at the 2 hour, 45 minute mark.

There is still much work to be done to insure our city leadership works diligently and as expediently as possible to put these recommendations into action.  There’s no time to rest and your support is still needed.

Update on “The People’s History: Research on the Summer of 2020 Protests in Des Moines”

The pace of our research on the Summer of 2020 Protests in Des Moines is beginning to pick up, thanks to the efforts of a small group of Just Voices Iowa volunteers.  We are currently examining the booking records on dozens of arrests to see what the outcome of the case was.  Our volunteers have also conducted some interviews with protestors who were on the scene and some who experienced police brutality. We still need more volunteers to join us. If you could spare 3 to 4 hours per week to help us with the huge amount of research and interviews to be done, please send an email to info@justvoicesiowa.org . We will train you and the work doesn’t really require any special skills just commitment, reliability, and a curious mind.