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Des Moines police kneel in solidarity with group of protesters


June 1st, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — A moment of prayer and solidarity in downtown Des Moines on Sunday night diffused a tense situation. A few hundred protesters gathered outside the Des Moines Police station, kneeling in silence to honor George Floyd, the black man who died a week ago in Minneapolis police custody. Then they began chanting at police on the other side of barricades to do the same. W-H-O Television’s livestream showed a black officer and a white officer behind the barricades kneeling in prayer, drawing a positive roar from the crowd.

People in the crowd yelled that they’d leave if every officer on the scene knelt. For two minutes, police in riot gear joined the protesters, symbolically taking a knee, to cheers.

The crowd then left. Peaceful protests were staged over the weekend in places like Sioux City, Iowa City and Waterloo. Michael O’Connor, a Native American activist who joined a march in Sioux City, says this could be a historic turning point.  “We need to organize and not just organize against, but organize with those community organization organizations and community responders,” O’Connor says. “A lot of questions really need to be asked and a lot of questions need to be answered.”

Jada Allen of West Des Moines joined a Saturday afternoon march. Allen says she’s tired of being viewed as a threat because she’s black. “I can’t go outside and live my life, that I have to be alert all the time,” she says. “And if I get pulled over I have to make sure that I’m saying: ‘Yes, ma’am’ and ‘Yes, sir’ and that I know that my life can be taken.” Waterloo police joined a march that ended at the Black Hawk County courthouse Friday night. Joel Fitzgerald, Senior — Waterloo’s new police chief — spoke with K-C-R-G T-V.

“Sometimes we have to do a temperature check in our agencies,” he told KCRG, “and make sure that we’re consistent with what the community would like to see out of their police department.” A rally for change is scheduled for tonight (Monday) on the Iowa Capitol grounds.