DSM SURJ News & Action, 7/6/2020

This week:

Important urgent action, join SURJ Des Moines via zoom July 9, fund immigrant families and Des Moines #BLM work. Plus, learning and action resources.


Urgent Actions this Week: Three racial justice actions, 15 minutes total time

1. Contact Governor Kim Reynolds about restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies. Under pressure from activists like Black Lives Matter Governor Reynolds has said she will sign an executive order to restore voting rights before the November election but she has indicated the types of exceptions, if any, would be included.  There is also concern that she will delay signing in order to make it difficult for those impacted to participate in the 2020 election. It is important that we keep up the pressure on the Governor – urge her to sign an executive order with no exceptions and do it now. All SURJ members should contact the Governor’s Office in whatever way they choose:  call (515-281-5211), online contact, letter, postcard (Office of the Governor, Iowa State Capitol, 1007 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319).

Here’s a template:


Dear Governor Reynolds,

Thank you for your efforts to get an amendment to the Iowa Constitution passed that would restore the voting rights of persons convicted of felonies in Iowa.  This is long overdue.  People who have made mistakes and paid the consequences should be able to become full members of their communities and voting is one part of that.

Since the Senate Judiciary Committee has chosen to kill your efforts to amend the constitution the earliest another amendment could pass is 2024.  I commend your commitment to use your executive privilege to do the right thing in the short term as the work continues to amend the constitution.  I urge you to sign an order now with no restrictions.

[Insert a personal story – how this disenfranchisement impacts you or someone you know.  For example:  I want to live in a true democracy where all citizens have a voice by being able to vote.  This makes for resilient and safe communities that recognize the worth of everyone, not just the powerful or privileged.]



2. July 15 deadline: Speak out against the Trump Administration’s proposal to end ALL asylum. our voice is needed to vehemently express opposition to these immoral and cruel rule changes.   They have shortened the typical 60 day comment period to 30 days, so your comments must be submitted by July 15, 2020. Use this click-to-comment campaign to learn more and submit your comment to the administration today! If you want to take further action, please take additional steps shared (very handily!) here

3. Call Des Moines Police Department to ask for accountability for Police Brutality. Please read this article and call 515-283-4848 to ask why Police Sargent Greg Wessels still has a job after beating on people in handcuffs, assaulting women, most recently a young Black DMPS student at DART Central Station, and watching porn at work. He’s cost Des Moines taxpayers almost $1 million.

This week and soon: Upcoming DSM SURJ 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. 

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 3:00-4:30 pm: Immigration Justice Working Group new member meeting. Email us for the link to the zoom invite. More on DSM SURJ immigration justice work here, here, and here.

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!:

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: July 9 3:00 – 4:30 pm meeting for new members. Email us for the zoom link. 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. 

Emergency support to Latinx families during the COVID crisis

Over $131,466.86 has been provided to help 167 families in central Iowa to help with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while more than 100 families remain on the waitlist seeking assistance. 

The Central Iowa Immigrant Emergency Support Fund (CIIESF) is an initiative of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Iowa, Al Éxito, and Proteus Inc. The fund was set up to meet the needs of Iowans who do not qualify for government assistance during this global pandemic. The fund assists community members facing significant challenges due to loss of income, illness or other COVID-19 related impacts and has covered families most basic needs including rent, mortgages, utilities, transportation, medicine for their families during COVID-19. 

A recipient of CIIESF aid said, “I have just received a check for $1,000 I am not crying tears of sadness but tears of joy for this donation. I don’t have the words to show my appreciation for Proteus Inc for your kindness and humanity during these VERY difficult times. Thank you, Monserrat for your help at every moment. I am so happy that I truly don’t know whether to pay the rent, buy food, pay my debts, buy necessities, look for a lawyer for the accident or pay the hospital, but what I do know is I will give someone $100 to help someone else. God is great and merciful, and he never forgets about us.”

An initial grant from the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation under the Disaster Recovery Fund, along with donations from Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, Polk County, La Q Buena Radio and others, allowed CIIESF to open on April 27. Over 100 families are currently on the CIIESF waitlist requesting an additional $118,246.20 to fulfill their needs. “The economic impact of the pandemic does not discriminate on the basis of nationality, but the disparities are even greater during times of crisis,” said Monserrat Iniguez, Program Specialist for CIIESF, Proteus. “Something to remember is that while tax-paying citizens received a stimulus check, many tax-paying immigrants did not. This fund has helped ameliorate some of the financial hardship’s immigrants’ families face during the pandemic. From rent to medications, the mere existence of this fund has shown that there is a willingness within the community to ensure that all residents of this state are taken care of, and many families express their gratitude and bestow blessings to all who have donated.” 

If supporters are able to contribute, they can donate to the CIIESF here

Read with SURJ this summer: Book club

In July, we’ll be reading Kendi’s collaboration with Jason Reynolds to remix Stamped from the Beginning into 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 relevant The 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.

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.

Ongoing police brutality in Des Moines 

New information on July 1st police brutality from Des Moines Black Lives Matter

On June 22nd, the Des Moines City Council voted on an anti-racial profiling ordinance. 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 protesters 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 protesters 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.

Listen and Learn from Home

July 13-16 Crash Course:  What does it mean to defund the police? A Multiple time slot options. Sign up at this link.

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.


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:

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