All people — whether black, brown, immigrants, or lifelong Iowans — deserve dignity and respect. All people deserve to live without the fear of being stopped by the police solely because of the color of their skin.

But racial profiling happens far too often, and it has lasting and damaging consequences on our communities.

Watch this video of a July 15 traffic stop in Des Moines and add your name to the petition to end the DMPD’s practice of racial profiling.

It’s clear to us that the officer was determined to find a reason to arrest these young black men.

It’s easy to see how an unwarranted traffic stop like this could’ve easily escalated into violence or an unnecessary arrest.

We’re working to change that here in Des Moines, and create transparent avenues for individuals to hold our public servants accountable.

Sign the petition today to show your support for ending racial profiling in Des Moines!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2018
Bridget Fagan-Reidburn, Community Organizer
bridget@iowacci.org, 515.255.0800

 

NEWLY RELEASED DASH AND BODY CAM FOOTAGE SHOWS RACIAL PROFILING BY TWO 
DES MOINES POLICE OFFICERS IN A JULY 15 STOP
Offending officer has a record of targeting the Black community, incident and data expose larger racial profiling problem within the Des Moines Police Department

Des Moines, IA– Newly released dash and body camera footage (more links below) shows racial profiling by two Des Moines police officers in a July 15 traffic stop. Two young African-American men were pulled over, handcuffed and accused of gun and drug possession. Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), a statewide, grassroots community organizing group, say this video and newly released data (links below) show a serious problem within the Des Moines Police Department that needs to be addressed.

“Racial profiling by police happens in Des Moines. This time it happened to my 21 year old son,” said Laural Clinton, mother of passenger, Jared Clinton, and an Iowa CCI member from Des Moines.

“When I watched the video I cried. It’s so easy to see how an unwarranted traffic stop like this could’ve easily turned my son into another Philando Castile, or given him a police record.

It’s clear that Officer Thies was determined to find a reason to arrest these young men who were just enjoying their Sunday evening like anyone else. No one should have to go through this. This will affect my son and Montray for years to come.

My question for Chief Wingert is how do you expect my kids to trust the police after this? Is this the type of policing tactics you teach? Who does this protect in our community? We can’t let this happen again. It’s time Chief Wingert steps up and does the right thing.”

The video shows officers Kyle Thies and Natalie Heinemann pulling over a car being driven by Montray Little, 23 from Des Moines, accompanied by passenger Jared Clinton, 21 of Des Moines.  Thies immediately implied the car was stolen and accused Little and Clinton of having weapons and “being able to see [marijuana] shake” in the car. Montray Little calmly denied the accusations. Officer Thies proceeded to handcuff Montray and put him in the back of the cop car while he performed a warrantless search of the car. When Thies found nothing, the video shows Thies trying to coerce Montray into admitting he had smoked marijuana or was around someone smoking marijuana anyway, which Montray denied again. Officer Heinemann’s video shows her interacting with the passenger, Jared Clinton, seemingly to distract Jared from the search and what was happening with Montray.

 “We can’t let this style of policing continue,” said Bridget Fagan-Reidburn an organizer with Iowa CCI.

“Racial profiling can have lasting and devastating impacts on individuals and our communities – from mental trauma, to being incarcerated and thrown into our judicial system, to economic impacts such as court and legal fees and loss of employment. We need a policing system that builds relationships with our communities, not tears them apart.”

2017 data from the DOT, State of Iowa Data Warehouse (TRAxS records) and the booking records from the Polk County Sheriff only reinforces the impacts of racial profiling. Attached data shows jarring disparities of traffic stops and arrests in Des Moines.

The 2017 data also shows how Thies has a history of targeting young, Black males. For example: in 2017, Thies charged 26 Black people and 5 White people with “interference with official acts”. Additionally, 49% of the people Officer Thies booked in 2017 were Black.

Iowa CCI has collected dozens of stories of racial profiling by police over the last three years and has assisted individuals to file official complaints with the DMPD’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS). In the last 12 months, Iowa CCI has helped two other young Black males file complaints of racial profiling and aggressive treatment by Officer Kyle Thies. Both complaints were deemed “unfounded” by the OPS.

This incident comes as Iowa CCI is hosting a series of “Skin Color is Not Reasonable Suspicion” community meetings with the Black community and two Des Moines City Council members, Josh Mandelbaum and Connie Boesen (Councilwoman Linda Westergaard has committed to attend the final meeting). There have been over 100 Des Moines residents in attendance at each of the first two meetings held June 28 and July 25. The purpose of the meeting series is to bridge the gap between city officials and the Black community and to work together to find solutions to our racial profiling problem in Des Moines. The final meeting with the Council and the Black community is on Thursday, September 6. We will propose three ordinances at our final meeting that would combat racial profiling.

We encourage anyone who has a racial profiling story to call Iowa CCI at 515-255-0800 and to RSVP to the final meeting with the three Des Moines City Council members on Thursday, September 6 at the Polk County Central Senior Center at 6:30 p.m.

For interview inquiries, contact Bridget Fagan-Reidburn.

To view the videos:

 

TAKE ACTION:

Add your name to hundred calling on DMPD and the City Council to end racial profiling – click here.

 

Join us for a critical moment of resistance in Des Moines on August 17!

Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions is coming to town to deliver an address at the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judicial conference.

We’ll be there to unwelcome him and send the message that hateful values aren’t welcome in our state. This will be a peaceful, non-violent but noisy demonstration to show that Iowans stand in solidarity for a more just, fair, and inclusive country. Can you be there?

RSVP here! Stand up and fight back:

Can’t attend? Support the action with a donation: click here.

Why Sessions? Jeff Sessions is unfit to serve as the head of our Justice Department. Our U.S. Attorney General is charged with enforcing our nation’s laws without prejudice and a commitment to justice; and be an advocate for all people.

But Sessions has:

  • targeted 800,000 young people for deportation by rescinding DACA
  • reversed DOJ position that federal law protects transgender workers from discrimination
  • released the sweeping “License to Discriminate” guidance, outlining a pathway for discrimination against LGBT people, women and religious minorities
  • been the architect of the “zero tolerance policy” and family separations at the border
  • recently announced the Religious Freedom Task Force
  • encouraged federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes
  • ramped up the racist war on drugs
  • redirected the Justice Department to continue to make use of private prison facilities, rather than phase out those contracts
  • a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants and the LGBTQ community and hostility towards the protection of civil rights
  • waged an infamous prosecution against civil rights activists in the 1980s on phony charges of voter fraud is a staunch opponent of the Voting Rights Act

Together, we’ll stand against Sessions’ agenda to ramp up the war on voting rights, criminalize immigration, and uphold religious-based discrimination.

When
Friday, August 17 from 8:00 to 9:30 AM (Sessions is slated to speak at 9)

Where
Vets Auditorium/Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center

We’ll have signs, or you can bring your own.

RSVP here! Stand up and fight back:

Can’t attend? Support the action with a donation: click here.

A strong turnout will demonstrate that Iowa’s fightback is powerful, show strong opposition to Trump in Iowa, and garner state and national press for the critical issues of racial justice, voter, and civil rights.

Trump’s executive order from June jails entire families indefinitely and does nothing to reunite families that have already been torn apart. Children are still being kept in cages. They are being traumatized, plain and simple.

On both Saturday August 4th and Sunday August 5th, 2018, Iowa CCI and People’s Action are inviting activists to hold Families Belong Together Community Cookouts .

Trump was moved to change his family separation policy because public pressure caused him lose support from his base. There is an important and untold story about the resistance to Trump’s agenda in small towns and cities across the country. A lot of people who live in communities where Trump performed well in the election stand with migrant families. And they are turning their back on Trump on moral grounds.

We’re trying to get 100 Community Cookouts organized in small towns across the country. You can help. We are asking you to bring together friends, family and neighbors to raise money and help migrant families get out of detention and reunited with their children. Community Cookouts will be chance to connect with each other, reflect about why family is so important, learn about what we can do collectively to keep families together and free, and take concrete action.

We are building community and liberating families at the same time. Some people are gathering in their own backyards. Others are cooking out for justice in parks or congregation parking lots. Some will be big, others more intimate. All are important.

The money raised at Community Cookouts will be used to reunite families. Funds will help families post bond for their release from detention and to pay for travel that will bring families back together.

How to sign up as a host

If you want to host a cookout, please sign up on the People’s Action website at

https://www.peoplesaction.org/families-belong-together-community-cookouts

Once you register your event, you’ll be able to invite people through email, Facebook and Twitter. Neighbors will be able to find your event on the event website.

Iowa CCI assistance

Iowa CCI staff will help you along the way. It is the host’s responsibility to handle logistical matters like location, time, and food. But CCI will happily help you with the following:

  • Community Outreach – Once you have established a cookout date (Aug 4th or 5th), time, and location, CCI will send out an invitation to other CCI members in your area.
  • Social Media – CCI will create a Facebook event with all your cookout details, including a registration link so we can track how many folks plan to attend. We’ll share the Facebook event with you so you can share on your personal account.
  • Materials – CCI will send you all the materials you will need to host a successful cookout including sign-in sheets, a large envelope to collect donations, and any other materials you think your guests would need like an action sheet.
  • Reimbursement – CCI does not expect a host to cover all the costs of these cookouts. Feeding folks can get pricey! CCI will reimburse up to $300 of cookout costs. Please be sure to save your receipts and send them back to CCI in the envelope.
  • Preparation – CCI staff will prep you via phone to walk through the program, cookout logistics, and answer any questions you may have.

Donation Information

The funds raised at Community Cookouts across should go directly to organizations that will use the money to reunite families. People’s Action & Iowa CCI recommend that funds raised go to support paying detention bonds and travel funds so that parents can be released and reunited with their children.

The tireless advocates and attorneys working with families who have been ripped apart tell us that the fastest way to reunite parents with their children is to ensure that the parents are not in immigration detention. Typically, bond costs about $1,500 but it can vary from case to case. Thousands of people are stuck in immigration detention simply because they don’t have enough money to pay their bonds. Not only are parents stuck in detention and separated from their children, 84% of people in immigration detention do not have an attorney and have to represent themselves in court. Having an attorney to help them with their case is often life or death for people fleeing for their lives.

Iowa CCI is asking all cookout hosts to donate all proceeds to the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project , a local organization in Iowa that has been supporting immigrant families right here at home.

On July 1st, 2018 the anti-immigrant law Senate File 481 (SF481) officially went into effect. SF481 forces local law enforcement agencies to work closer with Immigration Customs & Enforcement (ICE) and other federal immigration agencies and ultimately, makes our communities less safe.

For the past two years, CCI Action has been partnering with immigrant ally groups across Iowa to create welcoming communities. We’ll continue to fight to keep families together and keep people out of jail. And most importantly, work to repeal SF481.

We’ve nailed down two campaign strategies to keep ICE out of Iowa:

  1. We want to keep people out of jail by working at the city level to ensure that police departments accept various forms of identification, eliminate racial profiling and pretextual stops, and issue more citations rather than arresting community members. We’ll also work with elected officials to promote ‘Know Your Rights’ trainings and create better city service accessibility through language expansion.
  2. We want to keep families together by working at the county level to ensure that sheriff departments offer ‘Know Your Rights’ information in a person’s preferred language, provide unbiased third party interpretation services, and eliminate contracts or agreements with ICE. We’ll also work with elected officials to establish a community ID program and create a detainer request review protocol to ensure that requests from ICE are valid.

It’s going to take all of us – working in our own communities – to move our campaigns forward. Immigrants are Iowans, too. And we won’t allow a rogue federal agency to tear Iowa families apart.

Take the first step by contacting your local police chief and county sheriff.

Where does your police chief and county sheriff stand on SF481?

Contact your local police chief and sheriff to find out what’s their position on this law and let them know that we want to keep ICE out of Iowa and keep families together. Here’s a brief script to guide you:

Hello! My name is ________ and I’m a resident of _________. I’m calling in regards to a recent law that was passed in Iowa – SF481. It requires law enforcement to work closer with ICE and other immigration agencies. This law is bad policy; it makes communities less safe by creating distrust between law enforcement and communities.

I’d like Chief ______ or Sheriff _______ to stand with his/her community in rejecting SF481 and work to keep families together by publicly denouncing SF481. Can I count on him/her to do that?

(Wait for response)

IF YES – Great! It’s important to stand with communities and lead by example. I look forward to Chief ______ or Sheriff ______ making a public statement about SF481. Thank you!

IF NO – It’s important, now more than ever, to do what’s right. This law is unjust. It hurts all of us and creates unsafe communities. Local law enforcement should work to keep families together and keep ICE out of Iowa.

 

**We want to hear how your calls went. Report back to Madeline Cano by emailing madeline@iowacci.org or call the office at (515)282-0484**

On Sunday, July 1, a day after thousands of Iowans stood in solidarity with immigrant families at the border for a national day of action to #KeepFamiliesTogether, Senate File 481 (SF481) officially became Iowa law. The law requires local entities – specifically police – to work more closely with federal immigration agencies like ICE.

The bill was denounced by immigrants and allies during the past two legislative sessions, stating it promoted racial profiling and made Iowa less safe for all people.

“In the past year, ICE activity in Iowa has increased by 67%. While all eyes are on the disastrous situation at the border, ICE continues to disrupt our communities and destroy Iowa families,” said Isabel Conn, an Iowa CCI member and domestic violence advocate. “It’s dangerous to force Iowa police and sheriffs to comply with a federal agency that acts without rules, regulations, or repercussions. Iowans will lose trust in their police, creating an even more dangerous situation for victims of crime.”

Iowa has already seen a glimpse of the dangers of this law in Mt. Pleasant, where three levels of Iowa law enforcement – city police, county sheriffs, and state patrol – aided in a workplace raid without detailed information from ICE regarding the operation. First-hand reports stated police were dressed in full riot gear while a helicopter circled the concrete facility.

Here’s What SF481 Will Do

The law increases Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) power in Iowa, including:

  • Increasing local/state law enforcement collaboration with ICE
  • Preventing local entities from restricting cooperation with ICE
  • Requiring local/state law enforcement to honor ICE detainer requests, a less formal version of a judicial warrant

By January 1st, all law enforcement agencies in Iowa will be forced to provide written policy regarding enforcement of immigration law as required by Senate File 481. 

Advocates say SF481 will be disastrous not only for undocumented Iowans, but also those with various status privileges like permanent residents, refugees, visa-holders, and recipients of programs like DACA and TPS. According to the administration, ICE is supposed to target criminals and violent offenders. However, the majority of detainees from Iowa’s only crime is re-entering the United States to reunite with their families.

“Every individual has rights in the United States, including immigrants in our communities,” said CCI immigrant rights organizer Madeline Cano. “But what we’ve been seeing in Iowa and across the country for years is a complete violation of an individual’s constitutional rights and denial of due process simply because an individual was born in Mexico or Central America.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members and immigrant rights allies across the state say they will continue fighting to repeal this unconstitutional law. In three community meetings held in late June attended by over 500 Iowans, Iowa CCI members and immigrant allies committed to provide ‘Know  Your Rights’ trainings, support families in need, and push local/state officials to make Iowa a welcoming place for all.

Here’s How We’re Fighting Back

  1. Repeal SF481

Bottom line – SF481 is bad public policy. It violates our constitutional rights, subjects law enforcement to profile communities, and holds public officials hostage by threatening funding. That’s why our main goal is to not only reject SF481 – but repeal it.

Meet with your local legislators. They represent us 365 days out of the year, not just during legislative session. Now is the time to sit down – face to face – with elected officials and demand that they publicly reject SF481 and commit to repealing it in 2019.

2. Keep families together

This law is destructive to its core. We’re not seeing violent criminals being removed from our communities. We’re seeing mothers, fathers, and families being targeted, detained, and deported. Many of whom have no previous criminal record other than a charge for trying to reunite with their families.

The long-term trauma caused by family separation is immeasurable.

Join a community response team. Iowa CCI, American Friends Service Committe, and other immigrant rights organizations have collaborated to form local response teams to help track ICE activity in their neighborhoods, work closely with impacted families, and prepare communities for potential raids.

Contact Berenice Nava-Romero at (515)274-4851 if you are interested in volunteering on a team.

3. Keep people out of jail

ICE has no power without the assistance of local law enforcement. ICE works to trap individuals when they have been arrested for misdemeanors or minor infractions through a detainer request. SF481 now requires all local law enforcement to honor these requests and to hold individuals in jail while ICE investigates them.

Meet with your local police and sheriff. It’s important to know where your local law enforcement departments stand on this issue. All departments will be required to have written policy stating how they plan to enforce immigration law by January 2019. Gather a group of your friends and set up a meeting with your police chief and county sheriff.

Contact Maddie Cano at (515)282-0484 if you are interested in setting up a meeting.

4. Report ICE

If you see something, say something. ICE operates in secret. They don’t want the public to know about their activity in Iowa. That’s why we must work to expose them.

Call our 24-7 bilingual hotline at (515)996-0003 to report any ICE activity in your neighborhood or if someone you know has been detained by ICE.

Through this hotline, we’ve been able to help dozens of families, utilize the data to track ICE patterns in Iowa, and keep people informed.

Stay tuned! A toolkit is on the way!