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Vote on anti-racial profiling ordinance pushed back amid public backlash

The NAACP and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement have both criticized the ordinance for being "weak" and throwing out demands that were initially agreed upon.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Discussions on the anti-racial profiling ordinance continue at the City Council meeting Monday, as a voting on the ordinance has been pushed back to a later date.

The meeting was conducted via Zoom, and not without its share of intrusion.  A handful of people, albeit a small one, came on with the intention to disrupt the meeting by using the "n"-word and other racist remarks.  Mayor Frank Cownie also said there were over 150 attempts by people trying to "bomb" the meeting.

The vast majority of people who spoke voiced their legitimate concern for the way the DMPD operates and treats people of color, calling for sweeping changes ranging in scope from following a much stronger ordinance to the disbanding of the police department altogether.

Iowa-Nebraska NAACP President Betty Andrews called for the council to table this discussion to a later date in order to have a more meaningful discussion.  After City Manager Scott Sanders tabled the final vote on the ordinance, the council eventually voted to table the first consideration as well.

Many citizen speakers called on the council to scrap the ordinance being discussed tonight and to adopt a six-point ordinance created by Iowa CCI.  Citizens say this ordinance has had a lot of community input and is the right way to help ensure the safety of the black community going forward.

There had been backlash from both the NAACP and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement going into Monday's meeting, saying the proposed ordinance is weak and doesn't include many of the demands they initially requested.

RELATED: Des Moines City Council to vote on anti-racial profiling ordinance Monday

As it stands right now, the ordinance says the following:

  • Biased policing and racial profiling are prohibited, and officers are to "exercise their authority and and to accord fair and impartial treatment to all persons."
  • Individual demographics can't be taken into account when performing law enforcement duties, unless they're part of a specific description-based identification (i.e. "the suspect is a white male").
  • Officers will not use terms and language that is derogatory or belittling to any individual demographic, unless it's necessary to include them in official reports (i.e. reporting that a perp called a victim the "n" word)
  • Officers are not to take action based on info from members of the public or other officers that is believed to be motivated by race or any other demographic
  • Any member of the public that witnesses racially-biased policing within the DMPD may file a complaint.  No one will be discouraged, intimidated or coerced from filing a complaint, and no one will be discriminated or retaliated against because a complaint was filed.
  • Supervisors will ensure the work environment is free of bias and racial profiling by any means necessary, including periodic inspection of body and dash cams, traffic stop data and reports and field inspections of police/citizen interaction.
  • Supervisors will be expected to take the appropriate action when a violation of the ordinance occurs, and ensure that no retaliation be carried out against those who file complaints.

The NAACP has requested the item be removed from the City Council meeting's agenda, saying they don't think they and city leaders are in a place to have a more meaningful discussion.

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