DSM SURJ News & Action, 6/24/2021

This past Saturday, the United States of America celebrated its first official, Federally-recognized Juneteenth holiday.

Like so many things government does, the creation of the holiday took many years of hard work and advocacy, it took much, much longer than it should have, and it was ironically still thrown together at the last minute on Capitol Hill, passing the Senate on June 16–just three days before the 2021 holiday. And 156 years after the last slaves were freed from bondage on our soil.

The creation of the holiday is a small step forward, and an important one. We know Juneteenth should be a holiday. We know holidays are important because they get people together to celebrate, and they can also allow us a space to focus collectively for further action. And further action is vital because a holiday in and of itself does not change any of the realities caused by America’s legacy of slavery.

For comparison, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983 after the 15 years of advocacy that followed his assassination. The holiday was first observed three years later. But some states resisted celebrating the holiday; it wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states celebrated MLK Day officially with its own separate day. That tells you a lot. And while it would not be true to say nothing has changed since the time of MLK, the record is mixed to say the least–we have so much more work to do.

But to be optimistic, Juneteenth is a win and we hope it will serve as one small piece of the 1619 Project’s effort “to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.


Join the Supply Hive’s Second Annual Celebration of Black Motherhood this Sunday!

This inspiring organization mobilized an entire field’s worth of supplies and volunteers last year and will do it all again on what will hopefully be a slightly cooler day.


Building off of our April event, Calling All the (White) Men, we invite white men in our audience to engage withOrganizing White Men for Collective Liberation. This SURJ affiliate is a national network organizing white men against patriarchy and white supremacy.

>From the group:

“Our work is to explore how our white and male conditioning impacts our human bodies and hearts. We are not responsible for our conditioning, but we are able to respond – and therefore responsible – for breaking free of the parts which cause harm to others and to ourselves. Please join us!”

Attend the virtual gathering 6/28 7:30PM to learn more and get involved!


You are warmly invited to join our Racial Justice Education Group’s meeting this Sunday!

SUN 6/27 – 2PM – REGISTER HERE

The group will continue its short- and long-term planning for responding to HF802 in Iowa. There will also be a discussion of timely community concerns raised by members and accountability partners.


One last note before we go.

When we think of “police accountability,” our minds often go to dramatic scenes like dashcam footage, shootings and high-speed chases. But it also matters in the little things, like the way police reports and press releases are written. (which then influence media reports, public perception, etc.)

On December 6, 2020, a Trump rally at the Iowa Capitol turned violent. Michael McKinney, a 25-year-old Trump supporter, got into a verbal altercation with a car of Black girls. According to witnesses, there were racial slurs and political taunts. It ended with McKinney, who was heavily armed and wearing body armor, firing shots into the girls’ car as they tried to leave. One girl was hit in the leg and seriously injured. She was so distraught she did not leave home for a week afterward.

McKinney pled guilty last week, which caused some national media to call out something the Register had already observed: the police on the scene turned in a remarkably general report. It didn’t mention the Trump rally. It didn’t mention the race of the assailant or the victims. It basically ignored the entire scene. From Vice:

The police reports from the December incident have no record of race or mention of Trump. In fact, there was no mention by cops of the rally whatsoever and they originally made the shooting seem like a traffic confrontation. 

After putting out an updated report the next day, the cops half-heartedly acknowledged the rally by calling it a “gathering of people.” 

The Des Moines Police Department did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
This is unacceptable. And it is strange in a state that just passed a law increasing penalties for “protest-related crimes” like rioting and unlawful assembly.

Someone please read the text of the so-called Back the Blue bill and let us know if “shooting unarmed kids at a protest” constitutes a protest-related crime.


Thank you for reading!

Please stay in touch with us and reach out at any time to dsmsurj@gmail.com

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