We believe families belong together – not in cages or jails.

You asked for it – and we delivered! Today we officially launched a statewide toolkit designed to provide content, resources, materials, and strategy that will help local communities keep ICE out of Iowa.

Read the full toolkit here. 

Why a toolkit?

In June, we held a series of ‘Keep ICE Out of Iowa’ meetings across the state. Hundreds of you gathered together for in-depth discussions with national immigrant rights organizers about how everyday people could create safer communities for all while blocking ICE operations in our own neighborhoods.

We covered a lot of material during those discussions. Folks had a lot of great ideas – and many wanted to do more in their own towns. We created this toolkit to give you a starting point to organize in your own communities.

How was this toolkit created?

Iowa CCI and American Friends Service Committee spent the next two months reviewing feedback from these events and surveyed immigrant families in Central Iowa. We asked families to identify fears and concerns they had with living and working in Iowa. We also reviewed the anti-immigrant law Senate File 481 and projected potential issues that law would cause for immigrant families and people of color.

We took ALL of this information a began crafting local solutions that would address these problems, create safer and more welcoming communities, and most importantly – get ICE out of Iowa.

How do I use this toolkit?

This toolkit is intended to meet people where they are at in their communities. Some folks have strong connections with immigrant families and are ready to push elected officials for bold solutions while others may be just beginning to organize around immigrant rights. Either way, the information in this toolkit will guide you in the right direction.

In order to make the most of this guide, it’s up to you to take action and get the ball rolling. We’re here to help you along the way.

What information is in the toolkit?

This toolkit covers a wide range of topics from educational efforts like ‘Know Your Rights’ information and trainings to rapid response planning in preparation for potential ICE raids to organizing campaigns that call on elected officials to implement progressive policies and practices that benefit immigrant families.

Read the full toolkit here.

Want to get more involved?

Contact:
Jess Mazour, Community Organizer, 515-282-0484, jess@iowacci.org

Des Moines, IA. – The Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) legislative committee finalized their 2019 legislative priorities at their annual meeting last week.  The legislative recommendations include changes to Iowa’s factory farm permitting and tax systems.

Iowa CCI members are pointing to the action as a sign of growing support for a factory farm moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in Iowa.

The ISAC legislative proposal includes addressing the failure of the Master Matrix and making factory farms pay their fair share of taxes:

  • “As this subject continues to be of growing concern to some county boards of supervisors, ISAC strongly encourages that this [Master Matrix] review be conducted by 2020.”
  • “The result is that the construction of any new agricultural building adds zero net value to Iowa’s property tax base.  This situation is doubly problematic because large-scale livestock operations and grain facilities impose significant additional costs on counties, such as for road maintenance, without expanding the tax base to help pay for those costs.”

“It’s about time that ISAC recognizes that factory farms are harming Iowa counties – not helping them,” said Barb Kalbach, family farmer and CCI member from Dexter. “We’ve tried small tweaks to the Master Matrix, filing complaints about manure management plans, lobbying against tax exemptions, and the legislature is unwilling to act.”

“As an independent family farmer, I pay my fair share of taxes. My corn and soybean farming operation adds revenue and value to Adair County. Our current tax policies allow factory farms to skirt their fair share of taxes. That forces everyone in the county to make up the difference.” Added Kalbach.

Iowa CCI members have pointed out that factory farms are exempt from all kinds of taxes that independent family farmers aren’t exempted from.  Factory farm buildings add no new tax revenues to county coffers.  Manure pits get a tax break under the Pollution Control Tax Exemption.  Wholesale rates on water and electricity are obtained, and factory farms don’t pay sales tax on key inputs, like feed and energy.

The lack of county revenue from the factory farm industry has forced some counties to change their Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) formula – a local program to offset propoerty taxes.

“My roads are constantly being torn up by the dozens of daily semi-trucks driving past my house.  I’m afraid my daughters are going to get in an accident because of the status of the roads,” said Nick Schutt, CCI member and resident of Hardin County.

“Now the Hardin County Supervisors want to change our LOST formula. If implemented, property owners property taxes will increase so the county can keep up with road maintenance,”  added Schutt.

The Hardin County Supervisors have proposed changes to the LOST formula.  Right now 80% of LOST revenue in Hardin County is going to offset property taxes.  The proposed formula would change that to 40% for offsetting property taxes and 40% for maintenance, improvement, and construction of roads and bridges.

The Hardin County LOST formula change will be on the ballot in November.

Last year, CCI members gathered input from Iowans affected by factory farms across the state and filed rulemaking to strengthen the Master Matrix with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  The DNR dismissed the entire rulemaking petition without considering changes to protect our air, water, land, and communities.

“We have already submitted our recommended Master Matrix changes to the DNR and the legislature.  They refuse to act.  That’s why we’re calling for a moratorium on all new and expanding factory farms.  We can’t wait for little tweaks anymore.  We need to stop the expansion now,” said Emma Schmit, Iowa CCI member in Calhoun County.

As of today, CCI members and allies have successfully organized 23 counties to pass resolutions calling for a moratorium, local control, and/or stronger protections from the factory farm industry.

 

Click here to view the ISAC 2019 legislative proposals

Open Position: Membership & Database Assistant

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is looking to fill the Membership & Database Assistant position on our dedicated staff team. This is a permanent, part-time position offered at our Des Moines headquarters.

The Membership & Database Assistant’s primary focus is working with our Membership & Database Coordinator to process donations, send daily thank you notes, and assist with membership renewal letter mailings. The Membership & Database Assistant also plays a key role in maintaining the accuracy of Iowa CCI’s growing database of dues-paying members and supporters through daily record checking, significant data entry, and running routine database checks to find problems and fix problems.

Good candidates will have strong computer skills, including use of Excel. Membership database/ database experience is helpful, but not required. People who can think systematically, learn quickly, and manage lots of details are encouraged to apply.

Candidates should be obsessively detail-oriented, have legible handwriting, and be able to work in a collaborative environment. Experience with dues-paying membership organizations a plus.

We’re looking for someone who appreciates the importance an accurate database and thoughtful, timely correspondence can play in building long-lasting relationships for social change work. A strong work ethic and sense of humor is a must!

Responsibilities

* Assist the Membership & Database Coordinator with daily donation processing including data checking records and the printing and mailing of thank you notes.

* Assist with membership renewal mailings, including hand signing letters, folding and collating materials, and assembling mailings.

* Assist with data entry for big organizational events or issue campaigns and perform routine database maintenance to find and fix data problems.

* Assist with other organizational mailing and database needs as necessary.

Qualifications

* Commitment to Iowa CCI’s mission as a path towards progressive change.

* Strong computer skills, including Excel, the ability to learn our database system.

* Internet sleuthing skills to look up missing contact information and decipher bad handwriting.

* Impeccable attention to detail and desire to impress with accuracy and gratitude.

* Experience in database, membership or individual giving, or organizing campaigns a plus

* Legible handwriting.

* Ability to organize and manage multiple projects while working in a team setting.

(over à)

About Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Iowa CCI is a forward-thinking, agenda-setting, speak-truth-to-power community organizing group that knows how to mobilize lots of everyday people to stand up for what’s right and put pressure where it needs to be put to win policies that put people first. For more than 45 years, our mission has been simple: help everyday people be a powerful force for justice.

Our current organizing campaigns include: Clean Water Fight/Stop Factory Farms, Racial Justice/Stop Racial Profiling, No Fossil Fuels/Clean Energy Future, Healthcare for All, and electoral work to change “business as usual” politics.

Our thousands of dues-paying members across the state believe you don’t have to stand by and just let things happen, which is probably why we’re growing so much. We view this troublesome time as a clear call to action and an opportunity to build political power to shape the Iowa we want and need to see.

Physical requirements

This is largely a sedentary role; however, occasional physical demands could be hand-addressing and assembling large 500-piece mailings.

Salary and Benefits

This is a permanent non-exempt part-time position being offered at 16-20 hours/week (.4-.5 FTE) to start.

A note on hours:  We’re flexible on the hours of they day so long as they fall between 9-5. Prefer a regular weekly schedule, the more days a week the better as it helps us get thank you notes out in a timely manner.  The last staff in this position worked 10-2ish, Mon-Thurs (~16/wk), the staff before that worked Mon-Friday 8-12 (~20/wk).  Questions about this are welcome, please contact katie@iowacci.org.

* Pay for this position is hourly starting at $15/hour

* Generous paid vacation

* Great work environment

How to apply

Email resume, and cover letter by September 15, 2018 to: Katie Bryan, Development & Communications Director, katie [at] iowacci.org

>> Please put “Membership Assistant” in the subject line.

**Iowa CCI is an equal opportunity employer**

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.