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.

 

It’s our 40th birthday, and we want to celebrate by

celebrating those who make CCI – our members. Meet Lori!

Check out the stories of more of our justice fighters here!

 

Join the Fight

IMG_1617 asdgOn Tuesday, July 28 CCI’s racial justice team met with Des Moines Police Chief, Dana Wingert. This was an initial meeting – where we told racial profiling stories and stories about people’s experience with the complaint process, wanted to raise important questions and hear what the Chief will do to make sure all people are treated fairly by the police. We also presented what we want changed with the complaint process so everyone feels they can file a complaint and treated with respect when they do file.

 

There will be more meetings to come –we still have a lot of work to do but this was a good first step!

 

These are the questions we asked:

 

  1. Do you believe racial profiling exists in Des Moines?
    1. Chief Wingert said the DMPD has changed – the old officers, many who are now retired, had a warrior mentality. He said there are many young people on the force currently and they have a “progressive” mindset.
    2. We asked this follow- up question – “have you ever worked with a racist police officer?” Chief Wingert and Officer Knox both said they haven’t worked with a racist officer in their history of working on the force. He said some officers past actions, though not racist, would not be allowed on the force currently.
  2. What are you going to do so black mothers and fathers don’t have to have a conversation with their children about interacting with the police?
    1. Chief Wingert talked about some of the things they’re currently doing: roundtable conversations with youth, getting youth and police officers together, having kids do ride-alongs with officers, and a new criminal justice class in public schools taught by officers.
    2. Sharon then asked about how they’re connecting with the 20-30 year olds in the community. He said that’s a group of people they’re having trouble connecting with and they are open to ideas.
  3. Do you have statistics on the number of stops, arrests and active complaints? Do you report these statistics to the Justice Department?
    1. Yes, they record stats and are required by law to report stats to the Justice Department.
    2. Every week, Wingerts gets a report of all officers regarding any excessive force used and complaints issued.
  4. Do you ask specific questions about racism during the polygraph test officers receive?
    1. Yes, they do ask specific questions about racism – such as “Are you a part of the KKK?” It is considered a medical test now and is one of the best tests the potential officer can receive to test racism, according to Wingert.
  5. Other questions folks asked:
    1. What sort of trainings do officers receive?
      1. Every year there is a mandatory four hour sensitivity training session and he said there is a lot of training at the Police Academy. There is also crisis intervention (mental health) training.
      2. He’s trying to get training by the Department of Justice on unconscious bias.
    2. What is the range of disciplinary action he takes?
      1. Levels of discipline range from re-instruction, verbal counseling (they go over policy), a written reprimand that goes in their file, suspension, or termination (Wingert has terminated 6 people).
    3. Is there an appeal process if you don’t agree with the outcome of a complaint?
      1. Yes – you can appeal to the city manager and the Human Rights Commission. Then the City, Legal and the Chief discuss (so, still an internal process).

 

We discussed the specific changes we’d like to see with the complaint process. One attendee started by sharing her experience filing an official complaint with the Office of Professional Standards and how she felt like she was on trial and treated unprofessionally.

 

These were the changes we proposed:

 

  • All complaints are formal.
  • Official complaint form available online and follow up by the Office of Professional Standrads within 48 hours.
  • All complaints are given a case number.
  • Consistent timelines for investigation – 30 day response time.
  • Person filing complaint is allowed a citizen advocate or person of their choosing to be with them throughout whole process, including interview process.
  • Transparency of the investigation – progress is shared to the citizen.
  • Each citizen is given notice of how you can appeal and given information about the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
  • Statistics of complaints – how many filed, demographics of who’s filing and outcomes of the complaint.

 

Takeaways:

 

  • Wingert said because of Rosa Ruiz and her experience with the complaint process they started giving everyone who files a complaint a card with the investigator’s number and their case number on it.
  • Officers are required to carry business cards. Currently, they don’t have their names on it. They have to fill that in. It could change to where they’ll get individual business cards. They are required to give it to you if you ask.
  • Body cameras – Wingert says it’s coming but the main issue is public privacy and who has access to it. He’s working with the ACLU and Bruce Hunter on legislation that takes into account the privacy concerns.
  • Police car cameras – they run when the lights are on but there is a failsafe system so it’s almost always recording.
  • Racial profiling policy – DMPD does have one and Wingert had a hand in drafting it.

 

We closed the meeting asking what he thought about a citizen review board and asked him to note that we think it’s important to have one in Des Moines. We will keep working on making that happen. We also asked him to examine the proposed complaint process changes.

 

We will keep you posted!

 

Join the Fight

  • Contact us for more information. !Hablamos español!
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List

Alicia Garza came to Des Moines to talk about the movement to end anti-black racism and to achieve racial justice: #blacklivesmatter. She captured the room’s attention with profoundly engaging and necessary words. 

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 “Race in this country was constructed on black bodies. We have to understand the roots of anti-blackness in all of our communities. It’s even in our language. When we say black-list what do we mean? It is in our country’s DNA.

The work that we do together has to be courageous enough to dismantle that. It’s about changing laws, structures, and the ways in which we relate to each other.

Every social movement in this country was built by regular, everyday people. All of our humanity is at stake if we are not successful, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

The Des Moines Register covered the event beautifully.

There is a growing #blacklivesmatter movement in Iowa – join us:

  • Monthly racial justice meetings – CCI members meet monthly to dig in on our campaign to stop racial profiling in Des Moines and in Iowa.
  • Economic and racial justice depend on each other. Fight for $15 campaign – we’re working for a $15/hr. minimum wage. One way that’s happening? Fast Food Fridays!
    • Every second and fourth Friday of the month, we take action outside of a local fast food restaurant calling for $15/hr.
  • Alicia’s coming back – join us October 2-3 for our 40th annual convention. Register here!

 Keep an eye out for details on how you can join us and take action for a better Iowa. 

 

Join the Fight

  • Contact us for more information. !Hablamos español!
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List