Sgt. Paul Parizek addresses Saturday’s riots in Des Moines on the afternoon of May 31, 2020.
Des Moines Register
TO READERS: The author of the letter “Police were calm and professional on Friday” was corrected June 3, 2020. Ken Johnson of Des Moines wrote the letter. The author of the letter “Get rid of bad cops” was corrected June 4, 2020. Jacqueline Van Ahn of Panora wrote that letter. In addition, the headline for the letter “Riots follow much injustice” has been updated; the previous headline was intended for a different letter.
We shouldn’t fight fire with fire
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is respected by all thoughtful Americans of every ethnicity. It takes no imagination to understand how he would condone the current peaceful protests taking place throughout the land in the daytime, but how swiftly he would condemn the destruction that comes with the darkness following nightfall.
Violence is not the answer to the question of why George Floyd died. Rioting can never be an antidote to racism. Looting in these demonstrations-gone-wrong is just selfishly exploiting the commission of one crime as an excuse for committing another.
These reactions of rage to racial injustice are understandable but unacceptable. When a peaceful protest turns ugly, when windows are shattered, and when businesses are burned, the message is swept away in the noise and the flames.
— Harold Young, Des Moines
Bottle bill as relevant as ever before
The past several months have proved to be uncertain for so many Iowans. Some have lost their jobs, some are missing school or sports, and most are trying to navigate a new “normal.” Whatever your road, the past few months have not been easy. Slowly the governor has lifted many of the restrictions; however, grocers are still able to turn away Iowans seeking to collect their 5 cents by returning their bottles and cans until at least June 25.
Can and bottle redemption is more important now than ever before. It is an opportunity to help those who need it most, including neighbors in need, local charities, and small businesses. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance stating that there is no evidence suggesting returning containers and recycling represents a danger to the public.
Iowa’s beer distributors want to work with our legislators to keep the bottle bill for the good of our local communities. The money from can redemption puts food on the table of Iowans in need. It is used to buy groceries, medicine, and other necessities at a very difficult time for many of our neighbors.
Neighbors who once contributed to our local little league, the food pantry, or the food bank are now unable to, which in turn puts the burden on local charities. Our local charities are feeling twice the strain, with decreased donations and increased need. All of these organizations benefit from can and bottle fundraisers, but only if all grocery stores and redemption centers are accepting redemptions.
Since 1978, the bottle bill has propelled Iowa into one of the best recycling states in the country and only benefited Iowans in the process. Our ditches are clean, and the bottle redemption provides jobs for hard-working Iowans. Please join me in contacting your legislator to ask them to protect and support the bottle bill.
— Tim Lanphier, Sioux City
Cownie, Reynolds out of touch with their people
Mayor Frank Cownie and Gov. Kim Reynolds’ statements Saturday were off the mark. Governor, when you said “it is never right to react with violence,” I agree. However, you are speaking to the wrong audience. Documented abuses of power, racial profiling, and the silence of those who stand by and do nothing is violence.
Be cautious to judge, even when it seems as simple as saying smashing windows is bad. It displays your ignorant understanding of the issue as nothing more than fragments of broken glass. See the bigger picture. You are handling broken souls. So, while change, in your words, “doesn’t happen overnight,” remember the course of history was altered in nine minutes. Do not understate your own power to create unimaginable change in a year.
Mayor, you said events “escalated into needless violence on our streets.” Again, wrong audience. George Floyd’s death was needless. The people’s reaction to it was needed. It pains me to read such well-scripted, legally tested statements that condemn the people and uphold the status quo. Change is uncomfortable, uncertain, and chaotic. Stop trying to hold it back because your legs of progress can’t keep up.
The anguish of minority groups in our great state of Iowa and across the nation has fast feet that will not fail. For too long we have watched our elected leaders speak from behind the podium, blasting out orders and mandates. Here’s mine: Take a seat; be silent; listen to hear and hear to understand. Act. Then ask, have I done enough?
— Miyoko Hikiji, Urbandale
When done correctly, protests get action
It is easy enough to believe, based on what we see, that professional agitators are turning legitimate protest into violent, destructive riots. Well-trained people are indeed stirring the pot until violence erupts, but the agitators are few in number. Most of the people demonstrating in our streets are legitimate protesters, not rioters.
Our elected officials want you to ignore the reason this all started in the first place so they can strong-arm the protesters and get this over with. Yet, we can’t forget citizens are in the streets in large numbers for the riot manipulators to use because they saw a black man’s life squeezed out of him for no reason. Because they saw three cop wannabes confront and kill a black jogger. Because police kicked down a door and pumped eight bullets into a black woman asleep in her bed. These are not isolated events, they are only the most recent.
It took nearly a week to decide to charge the Minneapolis police officer who pinned George Floyd. Three other law enforcement officers who stood by and watched Mr. Floyd’s death have been charged as well. Didn’t those in authority know that people were going to hit the streets in protest, and that professional agitators would be close behind? Now they have to clean up their hesitancy to act with heavily armed people in military dress. This is dirty, messy business, and the people who allowed this to happen now want it to be someone else’s fault. Don’t fall for it.
— Floyd Gardner, Altoona
No death justifies looting
Will one of the looting rioters please explain to me how stealing others property while breaking or burning the property of people who had nothing to do with George Floyd’s death is a good reason or explanation for what they are doing? Additionally, by the way, change does not come overnight, especially since you keep destroying things that need fixing immediately since it is someone’s livelihood that you just destroyed. Actions speak louder than words; what do your actions say, besides that you have no respect for anybody?
— Myrna Perks, Des Moines
Trump has knee on America’s neck
President Donald Trump has his knee on the neck of the African-American community. Indeed, he has a knee on the neck of all of us when, among other things, he tries to suppress votes and when he attempts to take health care insurance away from millions of Americans. The president has his knee on our necks while his hands are in his pocket and he is totally uncaring about the real human consequences of his policies.
Any politician who silently supports such policies without calling him out or taking action is like the three police officers who did not help George Floyd. Do you have your hands in your pockets, do you care?
— John Fairweather, Des Moines
Officers need additional testing
Once again, we are facing turmoil and violence in the aftermath of a senseless act of violence against a person of color. All too frequently these acts are perpetrated by the police. Protest and even prosecution after the fact is not good enough. In spite of well-intentioned efforts going back decades, we aren’t making progress fast enough, perhaps not at all. We have a systemic race problem in this country. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity.
The change we need won’t happen using the same old approaches. The police should be ambassadors and make our communities feel safe, not be the source of fear and anxiety. Police officers have great responsibility; we need to set a high bar for admission to what should be a highly respected profession. Not everyone has the skills, patience, and personality traits required to be a positive example and role model in what is a very stressful job.
It’s time for national leaders to bring together a crisis intervention team of behavioral experts, as well as community and law enforcement leaders, to develop and implement a rigorous psychological screening program for anyone wanting to become or remain a police officer. A fully trained and professionally vetted police force can begin the process of restoring the mutual respect between police and community that we must have.
— Dan Valentine, Clive
Injustice for anyone serves no one
I woke up after a painful and restless night. My first thought was, my goodness, look at the power of the media. Thousands of hours of violence, destruction, fires, drama, tear gas, bringing in the big guns. We need to see how great the anger is out there,
Let’s not lose the message of the thousands who marched for the elimination of racism and oppression, the right to a living wage, health care for all, adequate housing. It is imperative to seek out those engaged in peaceful marching and hear the pain of oppression and what actions for justice need to be done. We hear that over and over again until it sunk in, even if it may be uncomfortable.
Instead we hear of nonstop violence, and news of President Donald Trump bullying governors to bring in the military to shut down voices of justice. He also uses force to shut down protesters, so he could take an evening stroll with sacred scriptures. Disgusting. George Floyd died. None of us can breathe until we hear the cries for justice for all people. May it come sooner than later.
— Jeanne Schwendinger, Ankeny
Iowa losing its niceness
I grew up in Iowa and remember the days when we had the best schools in the nation and when neighbors made sure that no one who was having troubles went without help. I remember Iowa nice. When I hear people talk about “Iowa nice” now, I wonder how so many nice people voted for Donald Trump. The people I grew up around, mostly Republicans, including me, would be shocked and ashamed of what we have come to.
I remember when we welcomed immigrants to Iowa and made them welcome. I helped train immigrants to work in Iowa and make a home. I thought that was Iowa nice.
Don’t lecture me about Iowa nice. Those days are surely gone. I remember when polio was an ongoing nightmare that devastated families, including mine. We got through it and all Iowans were relieved.
Now we are not even able to find out where outbreaks are occurring because we need to protect businesses? Don’t lecture me about Iowa nice. Work to change what is going on in Iowa so that we can try to make Iowa nice again.
— Jim Fritz, Webster City
Clayworth, free press deserve praise
The League of Women Voters of Iowa believes that a democratic government depends upon the informed and active participation of citizens in government. Especially at a time when partisanship in politics allows facts that are in opposition to beliefs to be labeled as false news, the role of a press free of governmental control is critical in educating the public.
This year, LWVIA’s “Defending Democracy Award” goes to Jason Clayworth, investigative reporter with the Des Moines Register, for his work in discovering inaccuracies in the state’s felon voting list. The list inaccurately identified some individuals as felons who were not, thus preventing dozens of eligible Iowa citizens from casting ballots or not allowing the ballots to be counted.
LWVIA honors Clayworth for his specific work into this previously unknown assault on democracy. We also wish to pay homage to all media journalists during this COVID-19 pandemic. Many newspapers in Iowa are laying off staff or dispensing unpaid furloughs due to decreased revenues. Several Iowa newspapers have needed to close. A free press is fundamental in the functioning of our democracy. The League salutes you all.
— Terese Grant, Grinnell
Police officers should have psychology screening
The death of George Floyd has badly shaken the country. The acts of Derek Chauvin were inexcusable. May I make the point that Chauvin had a history of abuse of power in his job? It seems to me that it is on police departments in general to be more judicious about to whom they give this power. There is no evading the fact that we have cruel bullies among us. Always have, always will. We will never be rid of them.
However, why, once a person has established that they are this kind of person, would a police department keep them on as an officer? It is just asking for this kind of situation. I know most officers do their job efficiently and do what they have to do without unnecessary cruelty. A psychology test at police academies ought to sort out those who love to be cruel and want to be a police officer so they can exercise this cruelty over others with impunity.
— Doris Render, West Des Moines
Floyd and Kaepernick cannot be compared
Seeing George Floyd and Colin Kaepernick characterized as the same is a bit of a stretch. Mr. Floyd was killed by an out-of-control police officer who should pay a heavy price. Kaepernick is an over-paid pro athlete who chose to insult the American flag and all who have served it. He could have elected to actually go out into the community with a police officer and try to start conversations that might lead to easing of misunderstanding.
In fact, that would be a good thing for all professional athletes to do. Maybe it would help if Boys and Girls Clubs, church groups, community gatherings and such saw them together with the police trying to communicate and get a dialogue going. That would be far preferable to doing the easy thing for the first couple of minutes at the start of the sports contest.
The professional athletes could make a difference if they actually are willing to get together with police and the community.
— Beryl Richards, Nashua
Our world standing is being diminished
Enough is enough. Our republic is weakened and our status in the world has fallen. Our president is not only incompetent, but dangerous. Systematic destruction of a previous leaders’ accomplishments is not leadership, it is revenge. How many scandals will be too many scandals? How many threats to the Constitution are OK? Those in power need to stop watching all this happen and excuse it because they are afraid of the base or because they like their tax cuts. Enough is enough. Implement the 25th Amendment now.
— Alison Coffey, Iowa City
PPE should be a right for Americans
As states across the country begin to reopen, millions now must go back to work without proper personal protective equipment (PPE). They have a decision to make: Risk losing a paycheck, or risk infecting themselves and their loved ones?
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the AFL-CIO has called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect all workers from infectious diseases. Time and time again, OSHA and the Department of Labor have said there is enough guidance out there for workers already.
Even our own Gov. Kim Reynolds has trumpeted the accolades of Iowa businesses who gave their assurances that they cared about their employees’ health, and we can see the results of that trust. Plus, we know guidance is not enforceable. Thousands of essential workers have been exposed, especially workers in Iowa food processing plants, to the coronavirus. The numbers will increase as the economy reopens and PPE is still not made a priority. It is beyond urgent that action is taken to protect the workers who are holding our country together. Please reach out to your elected representatives and tell them that all workers need to be protected.
— Mark Cooper, Des Moines
Substitute teachers deserve chance to lecture
Delivering help to students struggling with lesson content was a critical failure point in distance learning. Classroom teachers cannot give individual attention to 100 students with questions, and families paying for tutors is inconsistent with a free and appropriate public education. The Greater Des Moines Partnership and Drake’s education students quickly developed a tutoring system for which parents paid $15 per hour for a college student to help with lessons.
Meanwhile, substitute teachers sat on the sidelines collecting unemployment. All have college degrees, and some have real-world expertise in hard-to-fill subjects like STEM and foreign languages. If distance learning resumes this fall, school districts should use substitute teachers to support students needing assistance at no cost to families. This provides a higher level of service in line with a free and appropriate public education.
— Bruce Schmiedlin, Grimes
Even during crisis, Iowans deserve better
I originally grew up on the east side of Des Moines, homeless and impoverished. Luckily, my family and I were able to work hard enough to bring us out of the depths of poverty and be able to live with some financial stability. Living in poverty makes people more prone to being exposed to things such as water pollutants and other threats. Now my family and friends face a new threat, air and water pollution.
As Iowa struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic, personal health is at the foreground of everyone’s mind. This March, the Environmental Protection Agency released a policy that would suspend enforcement on important key provisions of United States environmental laws during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing for our air, water, and health to be at the mercy of polluters.
I am infuriated at the concept of local air and water pollutants endangering those that I hold dear. My family and I did not struggle through crippling poverty to merely arrive at a new and easily containable threat to our health. I urge Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst to do their duty by standing up in favor of climate change, to polluters, and to speak out against the EPA’s destructive policies.
— Berthal Green, Des Moines
We need to wear masks for ourselves and for others
Wearing a mask, until this infectious virus is contained, guards the lives of others and could make the difference between life and death for anyone we meet. We could be carrying the virus but not have any symptoms and unknowingly infect someone else.
Being pro-choice about wearing a mask and choosing not to wear one could put people we meet in churches, stores, gas stations, gyms, businesses, and other public places at risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus and possibly dying.
Choosing to wear a mask in public places doesn’t take away our freedom or make us look weak and shows others that we respect their right to live, their freedom and their dignity as human beings and that we are strong enough to defend that right. Are we pro-life if we act in a way that jeopardizes the lives of those who may be vulnerable to catching the virus? Are we really free if our actions take away the freedom of others to live or achieve their full potential in this life?
When we wear a mask in public, we show by example that we are seriously committed to being pro-life and strong enough to guard the lives of others with our own.
— Mary Coan, Dubuque
Reynolds’ rhetoric is not cutting it
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ mantra of expecting Iowans to do the right thing, to keep themselves safe from COVID-19, is getting a little old. Yes, the majority of Iowans will do just that, but after a visit to a large grocery chain and a local hair salon last week, I am not so sure. There were many not following the social distancing guidelines and many not wearing masks.
Remember the anti-smoking and the anti-drug-abuse programs? TV and print ads encouraged us to do better. We need the same message now. Bombard us with a full-fledged campaign. The simple message of please do the right thing is not cutting it.
— Barb Pedersen, Ames
‘Iowa Nice’ proves insipid at best, tyrannical at worst
As uprisings happen across the nation, it hasn’t taken long for a familiar refrain particular to the professional class in Des Moines to be trotted out against protesters in the capital city: “These protests don’t seem very Iowa Nice.”
Iowa Nice has its roots in a smarmy, albeit folksy-sounding, self-satisfied pretense that Iowans are polite and decent; it’s a hollow phrase that only serves to reinforce predominantly white, capitalist attitudes around decorum and propriety. At its worst, Iowa Nice is a cudgel used by the powerful to condemn certain actions or tones that they deem dangerous.
Expressing anger at police? Not Iowa Nice.
Bringing doughnuts to police the morning after they employ violent tactics against a group of unarmed teens? Now that’s Iowa Nice.
In the past couple of days I have seen the phrase deployed by white liberals against black youths in the streets. Your therapist might tell you that “niceness” as a concept is hollow. “Justice” might be a more worthy concept; “equality” and “righteous anger,” too. As these righteous rebellions go on, let’s abandon the trite Iowa Nice adage along with the brutal system of oppression that disproportionately targets and kills black people.
— Alex Grapp, Des Moines
We can’t afford to profile African-Americans
We’ve watched in horror numerous times as black males, innocent or involved in a minor offense, died at the hands of police. While we haven’t had a fatal incident in Des Moines, several costly court settlements have been paid to black victims of over-policing.
For two years I’ve watched residents of the black community trying to constructively engage with the City Council to pass an ordinance banning racial profiling. The ban would target biased over-policing of black drivers and neighborhoods. The residents fear we could have a George Floyd-type incident here.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and other organizations are working together to advance the proposed ordinance, but with few results. The police chief has never spoken publicly to address the issue of racial profiling. Maybe his bosses, the city manager and City Council, haven’t emphatically told him to do so. If a fatal tragedy of over-policing happens here, Des Moines officials can’t claim that they never saw it coming.
— Ron Goodman, Ankeny
We must be forgiving on rent during pandemic
COVID-19 waits for no one. How many people will not be able to pay their rent next month? And how many landlords will not be able to pay their mortgages? So many are struggling. Nearly 15% of Americans are currently unemployed and that figure is expected to grow to 25%.
The CARES Act passed by Congress provided relief for people who are homeless and those who live in properties backed by federal loans. However, this support applies to only 1 in 4 renters. We were already in an affordable housing crisis, and the pandemic has blown the roof off that completely. Over 70% of extremely low-income households pay more than half their income for housing, and this burden falls most heavily on families of color.
Emergency rental assistance paired with a national moratorium on evictions would allow families to stay safely housed and landlords to continue receiving rent until the pandemic passes. It’s a win-win solution to a horrible problem that impacts everyone. The House recently passed the HEROES Act, which includes $100 billion for emergency rental assistance and a one-year national moratorium on evictions. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst should work with their colleagues to do the same.
— Peggy Fitch, Des Moines
Stand with Reynolds amid trying times
I am concerned with all the negative COVID-19 reporting regarding Gov. Kim Reynolds. The governor’s news conferences end with questions from reporters, which are often negative and consist of gotcha questions that are in search of headlines instead of serving the public interest. When the answer isn’t what the reporter wants to hear, they insinuate that the governor is being cavalier during later news broadcasts or print editions.
The countless plans, policies, and decisions our governor implemented have served all Iowans extremely well. Remember, there is no better protection than self-protection.
I would like to see reporting on the positives that our governor has implemented such as making tough decisions, open communication, data reporting, opening the economy, Test Iowa, and deployment of strike teams, things that are happening every day while dealing with this historic pandemic. It can be just as easy to report these positive plans, policies and decisions that are working for all Iowans as we navigate through this first-of-its-kind challenge.
I would love to see the top news story being reported as: All Iowans must continue to come together against COVID-19, hope is not lost.
— Rod Rieken, Ankeny
Racism must be addressed, peacefully
As a downtown resident, Saturday night felt like my own home was burning. I watched people destroy places I love, I watched fellow downtown neighbors get arrested trying to go home, and overall, I watched uncalled-for violence. I stand with the protesters who want to fight racism in our society. I don’t stand with breaking and looting small businesses that feel like my second home. At around 10:30 p.m. rioters stormed the streets and terrified bar owners to the point that they closed while I was still there.
I stand with fixing our criminal justice system, but I don’t stand with how people in Iowa tried to fix it. Around 1:45 a.m. I woke up to rioters destroying places that did nothing wrong, including the Hy-Vee directly below me. I was so scared that the only thing I could think to do was call my family and tell them I loved them and that I was safe.
I stand with the police on what happened last night. They, as well as the National Guard, were the only thing that made me feel safe and also unsafe. While rioters busted out windows, threw things at officers and overall caused chaos, they contained the situation. If someone is destroying and looting your property, that’s who you want there.
These protests and riots are deserved. Racism in America needs to be not only addressed by everyone, but conquered. That being said, I don’t want tear gas flooding my apartment, causing danger to myself and my animals. What happened Saturday night is hurting more than it’s helping. Rise up, fight injustice, but remember small businesses and downtown residents aren’t typically the problem.
— Emily Duff, Des Moines
Economic recovery can’t mean lost lives
Gov. Kim Reynolds has indicated all along that her goal is to make sure that our health care system is not overwhelmed. So now that she feels that task is complete, she is proceeding just like President Donald Trump wants. She is opening up the economy and many of us will get COVID-19 and most of us will be just fine. Her suggestion is that if you are a person in the high-risk age group or have underlying conditions that would make you susceptible, then you should stay at home.
Now because of President Donald Trump’s incompetence, we are left with a choice that didn’t need to be made, either we save the economy or we save lives. That is frankly pretty ruthless. I expected that of Trump but I guess I was fooled to think Reynolds would try a little harder. In countries such as South Korea, they implemented plans to limit transmission of the virus and open up their economies. As a red state,we are taking the Darwinian route where only the strong will survive. Please ask yourself, is this really how we want our country to be?
— Kim Hagemann, Polk City
Grassley should return to his roots
When Chuck Grassley was first elected to Congress to assume the seat of longtime Rep. H.R. Gross, I was elated. H.R. Gross had been and still remains one of my truly respected political leaders. Grassley promised to continue the mission of fiscal responsibility and restraint of government overreach, and during the first nearly three decades of his career he lived up to that promise. I cheered him along all the way.
Suddenly everything changed when Grassley was threatened with a primary challenge from the far right and then began the long, slow retreat from the principles that he had long championed. He flashed signs of his courage when he challenged President Barack Obama’s firing of an inspector general. Grassley not only protested this but even conducted an investigation. Unfortunately that’s no longer the case. Trump has fired multiple inspectors general and Grassley can barely stir up the temerity to wonder why. He writes a tepid letter and accepts a non-response with no real complaint other than a brief statement about how he has tried.
Grassley is now approaching the end of his service in the Senate. At one time I would have viewed this with despair. Now I can only call on him to go out as a hero. Stand up for what you used to represent. Reclaim the legacy you deserve.
— William Phillips, Nevada
Stay-home orders inappropriate
This county-wide, mandatory stay-at-home order is the wrong way to handle disruptions in otherwise peaceful protests. Curfews that bar all presence in public are far broader than necessary to address problems at protests and could interfere with necessary activities like providing care to others
By making someone’s presence in public anywhere in Polk County unlawful, these measures give police too much discretion over whom to arrest and will lead to selective and biased enforcement and risk harassment of people who are unhoused. They also bar press coverage of any public happenings.
We call on the Polk County Board of Supervisors, county leaders, and law enforcement to listen, not instigate or escalate, to protect protestors’ rights, and to take meaningful action on longstanding concerns of Black and brown communities such as considering public health and safety strategies that do not rely on or fund police over pressing needs.
— Mark Stringer, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa executive director
Riots follow much injustice
The riots America is suffering through are not just about George Floyd: They are also about Emmett Till; James Chaney, a black man, along with Andrew Goodman, a white man, and Michael Schwermer, also a young white man, all civil rights activists; Virgil Ware and Johnny Robinson, two young black boys, along with four young black girls, Addie Mae Collins; Denise McNair; Carole Robertson; and Cynthia Wesley. (If the names are not familiar, research the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.) The riots are also about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The list goes on, but, hopefully, the idea is apparent.
— William Shackelford, Des Moines
Publicity encourages vandals
The media is just adding fuel to the fire for the thugs who are stealing and destroying businesses. If the cameras would stay home, they wouldn’t have any reason to be there. They love the cameras and the publicity. But the media continues to dramatize the event!
— Alyce Elmitt, Clive
Police were calm and professional on Friday
I watched the 10 o’clock news Friday night, which focused solely on the George Floyd demonstrations in the East Village.
My impression is the police handed this volatile situation as best as could be imagined. It was clear from the news that the situation started as a peaceful demonstration that lasted until a few unruly rioters started pelting police cars with rocks. Even so, the police rather calmly moved the demonstrators away without being menacing.
All in all, the evening ended with only a few arrests and peace eventually prevailed. I couldn’t have been prouder of the Police Department for how they handled this dicey situation.
— Ken Johnson, Des Moines
Get rid of bad cops
It is clear that many (most?) police departments across our country do not police their own. The blame needs to be put squarely on those departments that allow “good ol’ Joe” to remain employed year after year when he/she is a ticking time bomb ready to murder a citizen.
The officer just charged with murder had nearly 20 complaints in his file. This sadly taints the thousands of good cops who go above and beyond every single day to protect our citizenry.
Governors must set laws and parameters whereby, after a certain number of instances (five?), the officer is placed on lasting probation to be terminated immediately should the officer commit another offense. This probation could be lifted if, after a certain length of time and no offenses, the officer’s record is clean.
We as Americans should be sick of watching another senseless and tragic death and then the looting by anarchists. Another American city will pay in big dollars and lives because nothing gets changed.
— Jacqueline Van Ahn, Panora
Answer with nonviolence
After the violent death of George Floyd, we must all learn the great principles of nonviolence in our world today. We cannot always bring about social justice in our world, by more acts of violence. Our failure to learn the great principles of nonviolence is certainly going to destroy our lives and our future as a democracy.
It is time we listen to one another. We mentally and spiritually need to know how to deal with our anger and our feelings of injustice. God help us!
— Darell Mitchell, Marshalltown
Stadium plan is a win-win
I encourage Mr. Michael Mauro and any interested citizens to read the details of the Des Moines Public Schools Community Stadium at Drake. The virtue of partnership is mutual benefit — you are able to do more because you do it together.
In choosing the path of partnership for their centralized football and soccer stadium, Des Moines school board members have seen the value Drake University brings to the equation. In addition to raising $4.5 million, Drake has agreed to donate the land to DMPS and to take on the budget responsibility of operating the stadium. It’s clear to me that Drake loves Des Moines schools, and my colleagues and I are willing to do what we’re able to support the high calling of educating our community’s youth.
As a constituent of DMPS, I appreciate the long-term efficiency of a shared competition stadium, and I understand why some neighbors disagree; after all change is difficult. What I do not understand is the assertion that anyone but DMPS students are the big winners here.
— Ryan Arnold, director of community engagement, Drake University
Heroes in the strife
Amid the peaceful protests and the chaos, there were several community leaders who stepped up to qualm the fears of our community.
Our police chief, Dana Wingert, knelt with officers to show solidarity with the community. Ako Abdul-Samad night after night joined the young protesters and used his presence to keep the peace. Al Womble tirelessly worked to help quiet the storm. Eddie Mauro has been a presence hoping to keep our young people safe. The head of our local NAACP, Kameron Middlebrooks, also reached out to work peacefully. And several ministers worked between the police and the community.
I could not be more proud of the city of Des Moines and all those who showed up wearing their heart on their sleeves. Our community is grateful.
— Deb McMahon, Des Moines
Set up a system to keep D.M. police accountable
To Des Moines City Manager Scott Sanders:
I am just one white citizen living and working in Des Moines and I am also a member of A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy, which has been working on the issue of racial profiling for eight or nine years. I am speaking for myself right now.
You have had city attorneys write an ordinance that the community was willing to accept even with its shortcomings. I personally don’t see it as going far enough, and in this current climate, I imagine not very many citizens of color will either.
There needs to be a citizen review board with clout. Officers who go rogue should be fired and charged for misdeeds, then prosecuted, given a fair (no immunity) hearing, and if found guilty, then sentenced even more harshly for using their position of public trust unfaithfully.
What happened to DarQuan Jones should immediately be labeled a hate crime. What else would it be? Police need to live within the community they serve. These are only a few of the ways the system might be repaired.
Please add a few amendments to the racial profiling ordinance.
— Sheena Thomas, Des Moines
Cownie, Democrats sanction anarchy
Congratulations to Mayor Frank Cownie (a willing dupe) for touting his participation in the “protests” while ignoring his duty to protect the citizens of the city from rioters and looters.
The last time we saw this scenario, factual data from several sources proved that black men were not being killed willy-nilly by police officers. What we are seeing is another example of Ferguson and Baltimore, which when the facts were in showed that there was no justification for the rioting and looting. The Democrats’ war on police continues.
— Ron Eklund, West Des Moines
We hear; next step is to vote
Our nation was formed out of protest and rebellion. But our Founding Fathers realized that protest was a right to bring attention to an issue; change had to occur at the ballot box. Protesters have successfully brought the issue of police-minority relations to the forefront. Now it is time for those concerned with this issue to take the next step; they must organize and vote. Only then will their desired changes occur.
— Merle Chamberlain, Johnston
Real people hurt by vandals
Americans and people around the world have been getting a good look at our young, privileged chumps, anarchists, arsonists, troublemakers, and rioters. The rightful protests by blacks attracted looting, rock-throwing, thieving people to take over their demonstration of pain. And don’t forget the organized white trash who joined into the fun of destruction.
I guess it’s OK for those shop owners put out of business and all the employees that lost their livelihood. Just their bad luck to be in the way.
The people who reside in those neighborhoods are so proud of your actions, too. You have just trashed where they live and work, increasing any hardship they may have. You are begging for respect, but what you are doing is setting race relations back a half century. I know I will never look at young blacks the same way again.
— John Day, West Des Moines
Public leaders can turn tide
Des Moines has not experienced rioting in two generations. Over 50 years. There have been public demonstrations, some heated. None that ended in the destruction of small businesses. News reports attribute the vandalism and looting to organized extremists that hijack public gatherings. The “spontaneous” violent gatherings in many major cities each night supports that conclusion. But that is an issue for federal law enforcement.
Des Moines’ ability to work through conflict has been the result of local leaders who would not tolerate the destruction, the acts of vandals destroying our city. Local elected officials, yes, but more important and more powerful is the action of people who do not accept the thuggery that we have seen this week.
People like the woman shown on television Friday night in front of Hilltop Tire Service, 201 E. Walnut St. Thugs were breaking windows, and she stopped one of them as he was charging toward the store with a chair. She was standing up for Des Moines, showing this is not acceptable in our town.
In the late 1980s, people living near Evelyn Davis Park, Drake Park and River Bend all reclaimed ownership of their community by standing up to the criminal activity associated with prostitution and drugs. They reclaimed their neighborhoods by being active and visible disrupting the thugs. Public disdain spread and other neighborhoods retook ownership of their part of the city. Criminals found they were not tolerated. Neighborhoods rebuilt and increased in value, appearance, and safety.
We need new public leaders to stake their claim. People like the woman in front of Hilltop Tire who would not accept the violence. We need to clearly condemn the thugs. We need to fill the streets of East Village, Court Avenue District, and downtown with people like her to say to the cowardly thugs: Your behavior is not acceptable. Get out of my town!
— William Moulder, Des Moines
Kudos to police chief and officers on a very good start
I watched it real time the standoff between protesters and the Des Moines Police and their reinforcements Sunday night and was overwhelmed.
We all owe a huge debt to Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert and the officers for showing solidarity and defusing what could have been an ugly encounter. I felt hope wash over me when the police took a knee.
We have such a long road ahead. The festering boil of racism remains. United we can stand for justice; divided we will fall with injustice.
— Mike Coverdale, Nevada
Read or Share this story: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/readers/2020/06/02/letters-iowa-nice-reinforces-tyranny/5279950002/
All copyrights for this article are reserved to this source