DSM SURJ, News & Action, 6/28/2020

Welcome to all! Dive into the topics of reimagining community safety, racial justice work in the suburbs, land reparations and more. How did Des Moines City Council vote on racial justice issues this week? And, Happy Pride Weekend!

Upcoming DSM SURJ Sunday Meetings

As DSM SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) continues to adapt to conditions of COVID-19, we will keep you updated in the newsletter and Facebook on how to register for these topics. Here are the planned upcoming meetings.

Upcoming meeting topics.

July 9 6:30-7:30:  Get to know DSM SURJ zoom party. REGISTRATION REQUIRED! https://forms.gle/BN7TGajA88BM41YC9. A meet and greet with the Des Moines SURJ Leadership to learn about SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice) and how you can become involved. Newcomers, returnees and longtime participants always welcome. This is a great first meeting for anyone interested in better understanding DSM SURJ! (For security purposes, the Zoom link will be emailed to you the day before the event and the password will be texted to you.) Register and invite a friend to register too!  The first 100 people will be let into the zoom meeting on July 9th. 

July 12 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm:    Reimagining Community Safety. Zoom meeting,REGISTRATION REQUIRED!https://forms.gle/d9xbj911dA6VvYNT7.How can we challengeour assumptions that we need police in the mold of “warriors” to solve problems in our communities? We need to reimagine a new public safety system based on respect, equity and human dignity that invests in people to raise them up rather than locking them up. We will look at a brief history of policing in the US in order to understand how policing in the US enables white supremacy and have a discussion on how we can contribute to dismantling this system.   Article on how to create humane alternatives to policing that truly keep our communities safe. 

August 2 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.: Equity in Education. Registration information coming soon!:

Register for Webinars and online events

June 29, 2020 at 11:00 a.m Anti-Racist Organizing in the Suburbs (AROS) 2.0 is a training and networking opportunity specifically for suburban community organizers. The comprehensive suburban organizing curriculum will involve hands-on training, case studies, and working groups.  AROS 2.0 is a collaboration of Community Change Inc  and Network for Social Justice.  Register for a FREE info session on register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUkcu2vqj4vHNwRl_7adToxCgr9epqzJ5VX

June 29 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm. National Abolition House Party. Sponsored by National SURJ. This is a community learning space to explore abolition. You are welcome to join whether you are hearing about abolition for the first time, or already committed to abolishing police & prisons. White People for Black Lives (WP4BL) designed the curriculum and SURJ is excited to bring it to our national network so we can support the organizing led by Black, Indigenous & People of Color organizers who are putting abolition at the center of work to defund police & invest in community. Register here: Bit.ly/AbolitionHouseParty (Free! on Zoom). More details at this Facebook invite.

Listen and Learn from Home

Discussion with Alex Vitale and Nelsie Yang, author of The End of Policing. Watch at this video link. Discussion about the political and cultural barriers to reimagining public safety, the interconnections among so many of the issues we see and care about, and some practical ideas for next steps as we reimagine public safety. Created by TakeActionMinnesota.

What does it mean to defund or abolish the police? A conversation (YouTube link here) about the Black Lives matter movement, the call to defund the police, and alternatives. Hosted by Trevor Noah, “The daily Social Distancing Show.”

Learn about & Support Black Land Reparations

Black Land and Power is building a world of abundance through leveraging reparations towards Black-stewarded land spaces that work at the intersections of healing, education, food justice, agroecology, arts and culture, shelter, collective stewardship, and more. This summer, BLP has identified 10 beautiful land spaces that reparations will fund.

White folks are supporting this movement through “relational and transformative work of seeding reparations.” Calling themselves “Reparations Accomplices,” the inaugural cohort launched The  Reparations Summer project on Juneteenth (6/19). 

“The basis of all wealth is the combination of land and labor, and to be self determining we must liberate both.” BLLI Reparations Manifesto

Here are some shared resources:

Reparations Summer Website: http://reparationssummer.com/

Commitment Survey:

  • We’re asking people to fill out this form to tell us about their commitment. This helps us track resources, and also make sure we connect you to political ed, conversations with land sites, the upcoming webinars we’ll be hosting to dive deeper, and other exciting things! 
  • We are so excited that many of you want to move resources this week! We’d love to talk to you before you do, and we’ll be in touch this week. Here is the info you’ll need:


DAF: Please send to BlackOut Collective / Ruckus Society (EIN: 81-0504390) with “BLP Juneteenth Reparations Campaign” in the memo line.
Checks: Send to The Ruckus Society, PO Box 28741Oakland, CA 94604 with “BLP Juneteenth Reparations Campaign” in the memo line.
Wire: Reach out to us!
Stocks:  Reach out to us!


  • “You gotta understand that piles of money have become the abstraction of the humanity that is actually pushed down and destroyed by creating that pile of money…Putting that money back into the commons is as close as you can come to beginning part of the process of repair” – Ed Whitfield
  • “We are not asking people to answer for their ancestors’ crimes, we are asking them to stop upholding the structures their ancestors created and to stop hoarding the wealth our ancestors created.” – Akua Deirdre Smith
  • “The basis of all wealth is the combination of land and labor, and to be self determining we must liberate both.” BLLI Reparations Manifesto
  • “However, reparations is about repairing our relations. While it must include amends for past harm, it must also transform our relationships to each other and the living world so that such harm can never happen again.”  BLLI Reparations Manifesto

Reparations Resource List:

Des Moines Anti-Racial Profiling Ordinance: Police cruelty the night of the vote

On June 22nd, the Des Moines City Council voted on an anti-racial profiling ordience. DSM SURJ has supported the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP and Iowa CCI in their efforts to create a more accountable police force in Des Moines. CCI reports that the ordinance passed while later that night, police inflicted cruelty on black and trans bodies, including a child.

Read the City’s press release on their decision here.
Read local media coverage of the vote here

While City Council voted, the police again inflicted horrific violence on Black youth. As reported by CCI,  Black and trans protestors were blockaded, beaten, chased, thrown to the ground, and pepper-sprayed. Nearly 20 community members were arrested. This orchestrated political repression, yet another example of the police working against our communities, was inflicted on dozens of community members including a child, a media representative, and a legal observer. Police riots are a threat to our community’s health and safety, and they confirm that transformative change cannot wait. This orchestrated political repression, yet another example of the police working against our communities, was inflicted on dozens of community members including a child, a media representative, and a legal observer. Police riots are a threat to our community’s health and safety, and they confirm that transformative change cannot wait. City leaders must be held accountable for this violence in our city. We must take a serious look at city and state budgets to imagine a future beyond policing. Only this future can ensure true community safety 

For two years, Iowa CCI’s Racial Justice team shared experiences of racial profiling with city leaders. We pressured the city to take bold action towards the future we deserve, through a 6-point ban on racial profiling. On Monday, Des Moines City Council proposed and passed yet another weak racial profiling ban. Their ordinance bans discriminatory police stops and researches the decriminalization of marijuana. While this is a step towards the change we need, none of these changes would have been enacted without pressure from protestors in the streets and on virtual City Council meetings.

DSM SURJ does not have information from Iowa-Nebraska NAACP at this time, but we are committed to publishing the perspective of this accountability partner.

DSM SURJ working groups – get involved!

Working groups focus on specific areas of racial justice work. Email us if you are interested in joining one of these three groups:

1. Changing local school district practices: Education equity working group I. Many educators cite “parent pushback” as a reason they are nervous to work for anti-racism in schools. This is often code for powerful white parents whose opposition educators fear may cost them their jobs. We as white parents want to flip the script and push for anti-racism in schools. We want educators to know that we fully expect and demand an anti-racist education—for children of all racialized identities. In addition to creating space to support each other in raising white children to be anti-racist, our goal is to leverage our white privilege to push for explicitly anti-racist policies, curriculum, funding, hiring practices, representation, and other structural changes in Des Moines area public schools. We do this in alignment with and allegiance to communities of color who we know have been lobbying for these changes for generations. 

2. Changing state level policy: Education equity working group 2. SURJ accountability partners have asked for our support in approval of recommendations that they’ve made to the State Board of Education. CORE and Al Éxito, both accountability partners, are preparing a presentation to the Board of Educational Examiners to reach objectives related to teacher training curriculum that supports pre-service and current teachers around equity, cultural responsive methods, and narrowing the achievement gap. Join this SURJ working group to support them in these efforts.

3. Immigration justice working group: Our accountability partner, American Friends Service Committee has asked us to help coordinate a visitor volunteer program for people detained by ICE at the Polk County Jail. We are working in collaboration with Iowans for Immigrant Freedom, based out of Iowa City, as they are already visiting folks being detained by ICE in Hardin and Linn County jails. The organization, Freedom for Immigrants, is the overarching organization that has provided tools and resources around this work.  As needs arise, this group will also support other asks from our accountability partners as capacity allows. 

GoFundMe #BlackLivesMatter Organizer in Des Moines

Donate here:   SURJ DSM supports the GoFundMe campaign of local #BlackLivesMatter organizer Matthew Bruce. He writes:

“My name is Matthew Bruce, I am from the Eastside of Des Moines, and I have been organizing in the #BlackLivesMatter movement for 6 years. Watching my brothers, sisters, friends and community members struggle to fight through police violence, scattered riots, and ideological divisions was just too painful for me to bear. This inspired me to come home from Chicago, where I was protesting, to help lead organization efforts in Des Moines and offer whatever value I could as far as my experience in and understanding of this movement.” 

$1500/month goes to Matthew, the remainder will go to Minneapolis organizers seeking to end police brutality after the murder of George Floyd.

Support Latinx families during the COVID crisis

Undocumented Iowans are not eligible for stimulus payment and other crisis assistance. Help your neighbors by donating to Al Exito, a Latino youth-development and leadership organization that is stepping up to help. Donate here: paypal.me/AlExitoINC or our website: https://www.alexitoiowa.org/donation

Al Éxito continues to deliver free groceries weekly to 21 families around the Des Moines metro who are food insecure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many families have lost their jobs and have limited access to support due to status. We are thankful to everyone who has donated to Al Éxito recently to help us further our mission and support marginalized communities in Iowa during this frightening time!

Al Éxito is conducting a needs assessment statewide of all our families and we are expecting to hear from more families that are in need.

Read with SURJ this summer: Book club

In July, we’ll be reading Kendi’s collaboration with Jason Reynolds to remix Stamped from the Beginninginto a young adult “not a history book”  Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. Then we’ll finish out the summer with James Baldwin’s personal, provocative, and sadly still relevantThe Fire Next Time. Learn about all titles at the Book Club website.

Currently, space in the book club is filled. We invite you to read these books on your own or with family or friends. We will send out an updated announcement when space opens up.

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