New Announcements

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:

Date

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.]

Name

Address


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:

Online:https://secure.everyaction.com/ZqBdtSJYek–W8uJIZIeuw2

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!

Quotes:

  • “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:

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:

Online:https://secure.everyaction.com/ZqBdtSJYek–W8uJIZIeuw2

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!

Quotes:

  • “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.

DSM SURJ News & Action, 6/20/2020

Welcome to all! If you are new to the mailing list or have been reading a long time, we’re glad you’re here. Ready to plan how you will be showing up for racial justice? Let’s go!
 

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. DSM SURJ meetings are the first Sundays of each month, 6-8 pm

Upcoming meeting topics:

July 12:            Reimagining Community Safety

August 2:         Voting in Iowa – from Registration to Election Day


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. 


Listen and Learn from Home: Important articles and webinars

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.

The Genius of Black Women Webinar. Friday June 12, 2020, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota hosted a webinar on Black women’s vision and leadership from the front lines of Minneapolis. Highly recommended by your humble newsletter editor. Featuring Lulete Mola (Women’s Foundation of MN), Kandace Montgomery (Black Visions Collective), Lissa Jones (‘Urban Agenda’ Radio Host), and Leslie E. Redmond (Minneapolis NAACP). Access via this Facebook Post.

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.”

Re-imagining community safety. Article on how to create humane alternatives to policing that truly keep our communities safe.


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

On June 27, we’ll be discussing Ibram Kendi’s part-memoir, part-instructional bestsellerHow to Be An Antiracist. 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.

DSM SURJ News & Action, 6/13/2020

“The battle is and always has been a battle for the hearts and minds of White people in this country. The fight against racism is our issue. It’s not something that we’re called on to help People of Color with. We need to become involved with it as if our lives depended on it because in reality, in truth, they do.”  -Anne Braden

Youth and supportive adults: CORE’s town hall events this week

What is CORE for Advancement? Core (Community of Racial Equity for Advancement) is a student-led group whose purpose is to unite and support high achieving high school students of color throughout Iowa. They are an accountability partner for Des Moines SURJ, meaning that SURJ follows their lead in setting priorities for our actions. 

June 15-19 Youth Speak Week Town halls: Speaking from the CORE.  Register to attend at this link. Volunteers needed sign up to volunteer at this link. 
Black youth from CORE for Advancement from Des Moines Public Schools and West Des Moines Community Schools are organizing solutions-focused town halls to ensure young black, indigenous and people of color are heard. Adults are invited to support

Events will be held at various locations:
Monday, June 15: What We Want from Our Police LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL
Monday, June 16: What We Want from Our White Peers VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL
Monday, June 17: What We Want from Our Black Leaders EVELYN K. DAVIS PARK
Monday, June 18: What We Want from Our Policy Makers (location TBD)

Read more details at this link.


Show up for racial justice demonstrations and fundraisers in Des Moines this week

Saturday, June 13, 10:00 am – afternoon. Malecon Event Center 6550 Bloomfield Rd, DSM. Food sale fundraiser for Latinx Knock and Drop. Proceeds benefit the immigrant community with rent, utilities, and other expenses. Menu includes chicken mole, chicken with potatoes, pork in red sauce, vegetarian zucchini in cream. Served with rice, beans, pasta,and tortillas. Desserts, too!

Saturday, June 13, 4:00 pm. Supply donations needed for Occupy Terrace Hill (see next event, below). Needed: water, gatorade, ice, sandwiches,
individually-wrapped snacks. Drop at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

Saturday, June 13, 5:00 pm Pappajohn Sculpture Park. 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Terrace Hill. Occupy Terrace Hill, an event to demand restoration of voting rights. Hosted by Des Moines Black Lives Matter. Join us Saturday for a march at the Sculpture Park. We will occupy the space at 5pm and then march to Terrace Hill around 7pm for a community block party. We are demanding Gov Reynolds sign an executive order immediately restoring voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions who have served their sentence. No poll tax. No restitution. Facebook invite here.

Sunday, June 14, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Location to be announced. BLM Unity March and Rally. Hosted by a coalition of Black Transgender, LGBQ+ Black communities, LBGTQ+ non-Black Communities, Africans, Asians, Latinx, Refugees, Immigrants, Allies and the Des Moines BLM Movement. Being planned with multiple entities across the state. More information at this Facebook link.

Thursday, June 18, 11:00 am – June 20, 5:00 pm. Iowa Juneteenth 2020. 3 Days of Music, Art, History, Health & Healing. All From The Comfort Of Your Home. Learn how to access this online event by following this link hereNew to learning about Juneteenth Day? Learn more here.

Friday, June 19, 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Iowa State Fairgrounds. Ride with Us – A Driving March. Created by Black Civil Rights organizers in Des Moines, this is a driving march in solidarity of Juneteenth and policy reform. Safety in light of COVID-19 concerns. Follow this march here.


Listen and Learn from Home: Important articles and webinars

The Genius of Black Women Webinar. Friday June 12, 2020, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota hosted a webinar on Black women’s vision and leadership from the front lines of Minneapolis. Highly recommended by your humble newsletter editor. Featuring Lulete Mola (Women’s Foundation of MN), Kandace Montgomery (Black Visions Collective), Lissa Jones (‘Urban Agenda’ Radio Host), and Leslie E. Redmond (Minneapolis NAACP). Access via this Facebook Post:

June 18, 12:00. Live webinar: Migration in the shadow of a pandemic. As we mark World Refugee Day, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is hosting an urgent conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on people on the move in the Americas. More information at this link.

Re-imagining community safety. Article on how to create humane alternatives to policing that truly keep our communities safe.
 


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

This June, we’ll be discussing Ibram Kendi’s part-memoir, part-instructional bestseller How to Be An Antiracist. 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.

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.

DSM SURJ News & Action, 6/7/2020

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — Angela Y. Davis

Letter writing campaign continues: Hold DMPD accountable with these three steps 

To be sent before Tuesday, June 9. We tried for 300 letters on Saturday. We sent over 800. Can you get us to ONE THOUSAND letters demanding accountability for the DMPD?

Here’s what to do in three easy steps:

1. Print three copies of the letter (download it here at this link). Print one more copy if you live in Des Moines.
2. Write the recipient’s name on each letter and sign your name.
3. Mail a copy of the letter to each of the following addresses:

Scott Sanders, City Manager
400 Robert D Ray Drive
Des Moines, IA 50309

Council Member Carl Voss
400 Robert D Ray Drive
Des Moines, IA 50309

Council Member Connie Boesen
400 Robert D Ray Drive
Des Moines, IA 50309

AND FOR DSM RESIDENTS ONLY (Find the City Council Member for your ward here)
(Your city councilors name here)
400 Robert D Ray Drive
Des Moines, IA 50309”

We’ve written a letter with 3 asks for the City to hold the Des Moines Police Department accountable for. The impact of the City Manager receiving 1000 letters in the mail will be huge! Help us make it happen.

1) Focus on diversifying ALL the ranks of DMPD through innovative, intentional strategies whose methods, success metrics and results are transparent. Did you know 80% of the sworn protective services in Des Moines is white male, with 10% white female. Fully 100% of the non-sworn services is white (meaning the chiefs and supervisors, etc).
2) Police officers should be required to give citizens their business cards at each and every stop.
3) In the case of a complaint against an officer, we ask that all evidence related to the complaint be shared verbatim with the City Manager, the City Attorney, and the Human Rights Director.


Tomorrow: Picnic and Conversation – Imagining a World Without Police

Monday June 8 1:30 – 3:30 PM.  Organized and hosted by Des Moines Black Lives Matter. Join us for a community gathering where we imagine a world without police. Food will be provided. Children and families welcome. Please bring your own chairs and blankets.If you are unable to bring supplies but would will like to contribute, please donate to Food For Our Fighters on Venmo or Cash App. https://www.instagram.com/foodforourfighters/ 
Afterwards, we invite you to join the DSM City Council on their zoom call meeting, where they will consider a racial profiling ban.

Bring Supplies: 12:30pm
Picnic: 1:30pm
DSM City Council Zoom Call: 4:30pm

Supplies needed:
Sandwiches
Fruit
Individually-portioned snacks
Water
Gatorade
Bags of Ice
Plates and napkins
Trash bags
 


Action this week to pass a strong anti-racial profiling ordinance

Monday June 8, 2:00  – 3:00 PM. Des Moines City Hall. 400 Robert Ray Dr. , Des Moines. The NAACP and other Community Alliance Members will hold a press conference to announce whether or not they accept the city’s proposed anti-racial-profiling Ordinance. NAACP Iowa/Nebraska Youth & College Division, NAACP Des Moines, and Iowa-Nebraska NAACP State Area Conference of Branches. Learn more at the Facebook event.

Monday June 8, 4:30 PM. Please note that there are concerns with the anti-racial profiling bill. Please join the Zoom call Monday to demand that City Council Does Better. .Attend the meeting from home via zoom at this link: https://zoom.us/j/85018958836?pwd=c3lQSmJoRitFcGwyYlJmUTVFajJidz09
(Meeting ID: 850 1895 8836 Password: 000960) You can also dial in: 833 548 0282 US Toll-free 888 475 4499 US Toll-free Meeting ID: 850 1895 8836 See agenda and more detailed information here.

Demand a strong anti-racial profiling bill. The City Manager is planning to bring the issue of a ban on racial profiling before the City Council, The plan he submitted is a draft from March that was NOT acceptable to the Alliance of organizations that have been working on this issue. Show up to demand the more robust plan be approved. Learn more with this graphic.
https://www.dsm.city/government/council_meetings_and_agendas/index.php

Thursday June 11. 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm. Banning racial profiling – a statewide update. Sponsored by Iowa CCI. Preregistration required at https://iowacci.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&id=2597. The Zoom invitation will then be emailed to you. Sponsored by CCI, this webinar features members of the Iowa-CCI Racial Justice Learn the background of work to get an anti-racial profiling ordinance passed in Des Moines and the fight ahead. Hear the background behind Des Moines City Leadership resistance to passing this ordinance. Learn how YOU can make a difference and take four important action steps. Featuring Lori Young and Harvey Harrison.


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.
 


Learn the Des Moines History of Housing Discrimination

Wednesday, June 10, 1:00 pm -2:30 pm. Join the Polk County Housing Trust Fund staff for a tour of Undesign the Redline: DSM on Facebook Live! RSVP here at this link. In the 1930s, after the Great Depression, risk management maps of 239 cities were developed to show neighborhoods that were the best for investment and mortgage loans and which were not. These maps, now known as Redlining maps, told banks where and whom they should provide loans. This practice is how structural racism and inequality were designed into our cities and the built environment. And the impact and consequences have never been undone. Explore Des Moines’ history with these policies so our community can begin to pave a more equitable path forward. Learn more about the exhibit and submit a question at www.undesigndsm.com


Zoom intro party with SURJ

Saturday, June 13 1:00 pm -2:00 pm. To attend this event, you must register here. Only the first 100 attendees will be able to join. Space is still available. We will email you a link to join the meeting. We’re going to learn about the basics of SURJ, grow our relationships with one another, and learn about the larger strategies behind focusing on antiracism with white folks. This is a great first meeting for anyone interested in better understanding DSM SURJ! 

Please don’t stop at following us on Facebook. Newcomers and long-time members, white folks and people of color, are invited to this introduction. You can RSVP and track this event on Facebook here.
 


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

This June, we’ll be discussing Ibram Kendi’s part-memoir, part-instructional bestseller How to Be An Antiracist. 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.

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.


Newsletter FAQ

How often does this newsletter come out?

Normally, once a week. Right now, more often due to the need for more communication.

How long has SURJ been writing a newsletter?

SURJ has had an ongoing newsletter since January 2017.

How do items get into the SURJ newsletter? How can I submit something?

Items include SURJ activities, activities by our accountability partners, and other efforts to fight racism locally and nationally.  They are vetted by the SURJ leadership committee. Please submit request for inclusion to our email at dsmsurj@gmail.com.

Who puts the newsletter together?

The newsletter is organized and the email list is maintained by two SURJ members. We are volunteers who take leadership from the SURJ Leadership Committee to create the content for this letter.

DSM SURJ News and Action, 6/6/2020

Welcome to all SURJ newcomers. We’re glad you’re here to show up for racial justice.

Actions to take this day and ongoing.

Today! Drive up. Sign the letter. Hold DMPD accountable.

Saturday, June 6. Start time depends on location (see below)  New location added! Two social distance locations, one location at important March site. Go to any of three locations to meet SURJ to sign pre-printed letters. We need 300 people to help make an impact with the Des Moines City Manager and City Councilors.

New Location: 12:30 – 1:00 pm. Our Generation’s March on Selma at Wells Fargo Arena (730 3rd St). Swing by early to sign a letter and of course, stay for the march!! PPE will be worn by the SURJ leaders and you’re welcome to bring your own pen for writing! Please wear a mask. *Open to Des Moines residents and metro allies.

Drive-up locations 1:00-4:00 pm:

Location 1 – 24th and Ingersoll
Location 2 – Beaverdale Price Chopper, 1819 Beaver Ave

Both locations have the same letter and a mailbox for premium selfies!

PPE will be worn by the SURJ leaders and you’re welcome to bring your own pen for writing! Please wear a mask. Two teams of SURJ leaders will meet you with pre-printed letters! Any time during that three hour window, you’ll drive up, sign your name, take a selfie with your letter and a mailbox, post to your social media and drive away! All under 5 minutes! *Open to Des Moines residents and metro allies.

We’ve written a letter with 3 asks for the City to hold the Des Moines Police Department accountable for. The impact of the City Manager receiving 300 letters in the mail will be huge! Help us make it happen.

1) Focus on diversifying ALL the ranks of DMPD through innovative, intentional strategies whose methods, success metrics and results are transparent. Did you know 80% of the sworn protective services in Des Moines is white male, with 10% white female. Fully 100% of the non-sworn services is white (meaning the chiefs and supervisors, etc).
2) Police officers should be required to give citizens their business cards at each and every stop.
3) In the case of a complaint against an officer, we ask that all evidence related to the complaint be shared verbatim with the City Manager, the City Attorney, and the Human Rights Director.


Important correction: City Council needs to pass a strong anti-racial profiling bill

Monday June 8 4:30 PM. Please note that there are concerns with the anti-racial profiling bill. Please join the Zoom call Monday to demand that City Council Does Better. .Attend the meeting from home via zoom at this link: https://zoom.us/j/85018958836?pwd=c3lQSmJoRitFcGwyYlJmUTVFajJidz09
(Meeting ID: 850 1895 8836 Password: 000960) You can also dial in: 833 548 0282 US Toll-free 888 475 4499 US Toll-free Meeting ID: 850 1895 8836 See agenda and more detailed information here.

Demand a strong anti-racial profiling bill. The City Manager is planning to bring the issue of a ban on racial profiling before the City Council, The plan he submitted is a draft from March that was NOT acceptable to the Alliance of organizations that have been working on this issue. Show up to demand the more robust plan be approved. Learn more with this graphic.
https://www.dsm.city/government/council_meetings_and_agendas/index.php


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.


Zoom intro party with SURJ

Saturday, June 13 1:00 pm -2:00 pm. To attend this event, you must register here. Only the first 100 attendees will be able to join. Space is still available. We will email you a link to join the meeting. We’re going to learn about the basics of SURJ, grow our relationships with one another, and learn about the larger strategies behind focusing on antiracism with white folks. This is a great first meeting for anyone interested in better understanding DSM SURJ!

Please don’t stop at following us on Facebook. Newcomers and long-time members, white folks and people of color, are invited to this introduction. You can RSVP and track this event on Facebook here.


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.


SURJ in-person meetings on hold – take action through these educational resources

Currently, SURJ is not meeting in person because of the need for bodily distancing. Keep social solidarity going by taking another step in your journey to better understand the immigrant detention system in the US. Then, take action!  During times of systemic shock like our current circumstances, corporate interests will use the opportunity to strengthen their power and profits. But we have an opportunity to work and advocate for systemic change in the immigration and incarceration systems.

Below is a list of things you can do. SURJ is working with the American Friends Service Committee, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and Iowans for Immigrant Freedom (IFIF), an organization based in eastern Iowa that has been working on visitations at the Linn and Hardin county jails. These groups organize to support people detained by ICE in the Polk County jail visitation program for persons detained by ICE. Will you support this work by educating yourself and taking action?

Education resources – choose one or more:

    1. Watch Brave New Films Immigrant Prison Series.
    2. Visit the immigrant rights page at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) website.
    3. Visit the Freedom for Immigrants website to learn about their work.  IFIF and DSM SURJ agree to their values and they provide resources to jail visitation programs and persons detained.
    4. Subscribe to IMM-Print, a publication by and for persons affected by immigrant detention.
    5. Read Detention-101 from the Detention Watch Network.
    6. Read the ACLU-Iowa letter to state agencies regarding the coronavirus crisis and it’s impact on prison populations including persons detained by ICE.
    7. Watch this segment from Democracy Now! On mutual aid to consider new ways of building resilient communities.
    8. Watch this segment from Common Dreams on how powerful interests such as corporations will use this pandemic to increase their power and how we can frame an alternative narrative.

Financial Support – local organizations need our support

    1. Support any of the organizations listed above by going to their donation link.
    2. Support local organizations provided support to persons detained and their families.

Advocacy: Take action

    1. Become part of ACLU-Iowa’s Rapid Response Team to get updates on state legislation related to immigrant rights that you can use to contact legislators.
    2. Freedom for Immigrants, Detention Watch Network, and AFSC all have national campaigns you can participate in.  Find these on their websites.  They provide drafts of letters and talking points.
    3. Reach out to your state legislators to advocate for immigrants in detention, particularly, as it relates to the issues outlined in the ACLU-Iowa letter.

Direct Action

    1. Join the DSM SURJ Immigrant Rights or Education working groups.  Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com for more information.
    2. Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com if you might be interested in being involved in the Jail Visitation program either as a visitor volunteer or as a member of our steering committee.
    3. Volunteer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Des Moines based mutual aid group run by the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists.
    4. Volunteer with Community Support Des Moines, a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) mutual aid group.

DSM SURJ Newsletter and Action Alert, 6/4/2020

Welcome to all SURJ newcomers. We’re glad you’re here to show up for racial justice.

Actions to take this week and beyond

Drive up. Sign the letter. Hold DMPD accountable

Saturday, June 6. 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Drive to one of two locations to meet SURJ to sign pre-printed letters. We need 200 people to help make an impact with the Des Moines City Manager and City Councilors. Two teams of SURJ leaders will meet you with pre-printed letters! Any time during that three hour window, you’ll drive up, sign your name, take a selfie with your letter and a mailbox, post to your social media and drive away! All under 5 minutes!
*Open to Des Moines residents and metro allies.

Both locations have the same letter and a mailbox for premium selfies!

Location 1 – 24th and Ingersoll
Location 2 – Beaverdale Price Chopper, 1819 Beaver Ave (location may change, check here for details)

PPE will be worn by the SURJ leaders and you’re welcome to bring your own pen for writing! Please wear a mask.

We’ve written a letter with 3 asks for the City to hold the Des Moines Police Department accountable for. The impact of the City Manager receiving 200 letters in the mail will be huge! Help us make it happen.

1) Focus on diversifying ALL the ranks of DMPD through innovative, intentional strategies whose methods, success metrics and results are transparent. Did you know 80% of the sworn protective services in Des Moines is white male, with 10% white female. Fully 100% of the non-sworn services is white (meaning the chiefs and supervisors, etc).
2) Police officers should be required to give citizens their business cards at each and every stop.
3) In the case of a complaint against an officer, we ask that all evidence related to the complaint be shared verbatim with the City Manager, the City Attorney, and the Human Rights Director.


Today (Thursday 6/4): Write or call to restore voting rights to felons

1 in 13 adult Black Iowans are banned for life from voting due to convictions in a racist criminal justice system. Friday, the Iowa Senate will vote on HJR14, the constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of people who have a past felony. The Judiciary Committee must pass HJR14 and then the full Senate must pass it in order for this amendment to move forward (it passed the House last year).

Who to contact:
Leadership of Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Brad Zaun
Senate Leadership Sen. Jack Whitver Sen. Charles Schneider
Your Senator, particularly if they are on the Judiciary Committee

These links will have an email template, but you are also encouraged to use your own words and stories. In all communications with legislators, please: Be brief. Use your own words. Be civil.

What to say:

Your own words on why everyone deserves the right to vote after they have paid their debt to society. But here’s some talking points:

Iowans take voting seriously and every citizen deserves to exercise the right to vote. A change in our state’s Constitution would allow more than 60,000 Iowans with past felonies to vote, just like everyone else can vote.

Voting Restoration would mean thousands of Iowans will more successfully reintegrate into society and become active citizens and invested participants in our communities and our state, which will also keep our communities safer.

77% of Iowans, including 70% of Republicans, support the restoration of voting rights for people with past felonies.

Iowa disenfranchisement law is unforgiving and provides no mercy. Iowans from all walks of life believe in second chances and our Constitution should reflect that.


Ask City Council to pass an anti-racial profiling bill

Monday June 8 4:30 PM. We fully support the anti-racial profiling ordinance sitting with the City Council and encourage all SURJ’rs to attend the Monday June 8th Council Meeting. https://www.dsm.city/government/council_meetings_and_agendas/index.php


Zoom intro party with SURJ

Saturday, June 13 1:00 pm -2:00 pm. To attend this event, you must register here. We will email you a link to join the meeting. We’re going to learn about the basics of SURJ, grow our relationships with one another, and learn about the larger strategies behind focusing on antiracism with white folks. This is a great first meeting for anyone interested in better understanding DSM SURJ!

Please don’t stop at following us on Facebook. Newcomers and long-time members, white folks and people of color, are invited to this introduction. You can RSVP and track this event on Facebook here.


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.


Organize: The murder of Ahmaud Arbery

We are heartbroken by the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery. In response, we must act boldly against white supremacy in all its forms. At SURJ, we know that systems of white supremacy and other oppression rely on keeping white people and communities silent or actively opposed to movements for racial justice. We know our work is to break silence and organize more of our people into movements for racial justice and against white supremacy.

We must show up in solidarity with communities most targeted by white supremacy and do the work of organizing in majority white communities to end racist structures and policies.

Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael are now in jail and have been charged. Here are 4 ways to take further action:

1 Push for the resignation of District Attorneys George Barnhill and Jackie Johnson: sign this Color of Change petition, which highlights their gross negligence or call Jackie Johnson’s office at 912-554-7200 to make your voice heard.

2 Support Black-led and multiracial work led by people of color on the ground in Georgia to stop this legacy of violence and racism: Just Georgia, Georgia NAACP, Women on the Rise, Black Voters Matter, New Georgia Project, Southerners on New Ground, and the Southern Center for Human Rights.

3 Sign up to participate in SURJ’s outreach calls with white voters in Georgia next Thursday, May 21, 6pm Eastern. White voters voted Trump in, and we need to do our part to get him out.

4 Sign up to Collect Your Cousins. Get updates with tools on how to engage in local and national elections as an anti-racist activist, as well as tools about how to “call in your cousins” and engage with other white folks around anti-racism.


Donate now: Provide COVID-19 resources to Central Iowa refugee communities

Please consider a donation to the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI).  Their mission is “To assure a welcoming community for refugees in which they have an equal opportunity to achieve individual growth and prosperity and to fully participate in civic and cultural life and to increase awareness of and access to services, resources and programs so that refugees receive the maximum benefit as they resettle and become participatory citizens in central Iowa.”

They need funds to make videos of updated public health COVID-19 information for non-English speaking and non-literate folks.  The cost is about $50 per video and there are many languages spoken by refugees in central Iowa.  There are no public health funds to support this work.

They do not have a way to donate online, so you will need to mail a check or contact them directly to ask how to donate:
Stephanie Moris, Director
1401 Center Street
Des Moines, IA 50314
Stephanie@RefugeeAllianceOfCentralIowa.org
515.344.1209


SURJ in-person meetings on hold – take action through these educational resources

Currently, SURJ is not meeting in person because of the need for bodily distancing. Keep social solidarity going by taking another step in your journey to better understand the immigrant detention system in the US. Then, take action!  During times of systemic shock like our current circumstances, corporate interests will use the opportunity to strengthen their power and profits. But we have an opportunity to work and advocate for systemic change in the immigration and incarceration systems.

Below is a list of things you can do. SURJ is working with the American Friends Service Committee, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and Iowans for Immigrant Freedom (IFIF), an organization based in eastern Iowa that has been working on visitations at the Linn and Hardin county jails. These groups organize to support people detained by ICE in the Polk County jail visitation program for persons detained by ICE. Will you support this work by educating yourself and taking action?

Education resources – choose one or more:

    1. Watch Brave New Films Immigrant Prison Series.
    2. Visit the immigrant rights page at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) website.
    3. Visit the Freedom for Immigrants website to learn about their work.  IFIF and DSM SURJ agree to their values and they provide resources to jail visitation programs and persons detained.
    4. Subscribe to IMM-Print, a publication by and for persons affected by immigrant detention.
    5. Read Detention-101 from the Detention Watch Network.
    6. Read the ACLU-Iowa letter to state agencies regarding the coronavirus crisis and it’s impact on prison populations including persons detained by ICE.
    7. Watch this segment from Democracy Now! On mutual aid to consider new ways of building resilient communities.
    8. Watch this segment from Common Dreams on how powerful interests such as corporations will use this pandemic to increase their power and how we can frame an alternative narrative.

Financial Support – local organizations need our support

    1. Support any of the organizations listed above by going to their donation link.
    2. Support local organizations provided support to persons detained and their families.

Advocacy: Take action

    1. Become part of ACLU-Iowa’s Rapid Response Team to get updates on state legislation related to immigrant rights that you can use to contact legislators.
    2. Freedom for Immigrants, Detention Watch Network, and AFSC all have national campaigns you can participate in.  Find these on their websites.  They provide drafts of letters and talking points.
    3. Reach out to your state legislators to advocate for immigrants in detention, particularly, as it relates to the issues outlined in the ACLU-Iowa letter.

Direct Action

    1. Join the DSM SURJ Immigrant Rights or Education working groups.  Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com for more information.
    2. Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com if you might be interested in being involved in the Jail Visitation program either as a visitor volunteer or as a member of our steering committee.
    3. Volunteer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Des Moines based mutual aid group run by the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists.
    4. Volunteer with Community Support Des Moines, a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) mutual aid group.

DSM SURJ Newsletter, 5/16/2020

Support Latinx families during the COVID crisis

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. If you are able to donate, consider donating to Al Éxito today via Paypal: paypal.me/AlExitoINC or our website: https://www.alexitoiowa.org/donation


Take action today to return the vote to 60,000 Iowans

Take action here. COVID-19 has dominated the headlines, but the Iowa ACLU reminds us that it’s crucial that we don’t forget the 60,000 Iowans – and that number is steadily growing – who can’t vote because of a felony conviction.

And with the Iowa Legislature scheduled to reconvene May 15, now is the time to act. The critically important felony disenfranchisement bill, HJR 14, is still in the Iowa Senate and must be passed by the Senate – soon – or it will die at the end of this session.

This bill, which would move us toward ending felony disenfranchisement, is a top priority of the ACLU of Iowa and many other advocacy organizations, in part, because felony disenfranchisement means that so many Iowans, and disproportionately Black Iowans, are being denied the vote.

Time is running out. Please contact your state senator today and ask them to commit to voting YES on HJR 14.


Organize: The murder of Ahmaud Arbery

We are heartbroken by the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery. In response, we must act boldly against white supremacy in all its forms. At SURJ, we know that systems of white supremacy and other oppression rely on keeping white people and communities silent or actively opposed to movements for racial justice. We know our work is to break silence and organize more of our people into movements for racial justice and against white supremacy.

We must show up in solidarity with communities most targeted by white supremacy and do the work of organizing in majority white communities to end racist structures and policies.

Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael are now in jail and have been charged. Here are 4 ways to take further action:

1 Push for the resignation of District Attorneys George Barnhill and Jackie Johnson: sign this Color of Change petition, which highlights their gross negligence or call Jackie Johnson’s office at 912-554-7200 to make your voice heard.

2 Support Black-led and multiracial work led by people of color on the ground in Georgia to stop this legacy of violence and racism: Just Georgia, Georgia NAACP, Women on the Rise, Black Voters Matter, New Georgia Project, Southerners on New Ground, and the Southern Center for Human Rights.

3 Sign up to participate in SURJ’s outreach calls with white voters in Georgia next Thursday, May 21, 6pm Eastern. White voters voted Trump in, and we need to do our part to get him out.

4 Sign up to Collect Your Cousins. Get updates with tools on how to engage in local and national elections as an anti-racist activist, as well as tools about how to “call in your cousins” and engage with other white folks around anti-racism.


Donate for Covid-19 resources to Central Iowa Refugee Communities
Covid-19 advocacy for incarcerated persons


Donate now: Provide COVID-19 resources to Central Iowa refugee communities

Please consider a donation to the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI).  Their mission is “To assure a welcoming community for refugees in which they have an equal opportunity to achieve individual growth and prosperity and to fully participate in civic and cultural life and to increase awareness of and access to services, resources and programs so that refugees receive the maximum benefit as they resettle and become participatory citizens in central Iowa.”

They need funds to make videos of updated public health COVID-19 information for non-English speaking and non-literate folks.  The cost is about $50 per video and there are many languages spoken by refugees in central Iowa.  There are no public health funds to support this work.

They do not have a way to donate online, so you will need to mail a check or contact them directly to ask how to donate:
Stephanie Moris, Director
1401 Center Street
Des Moines, IA 50314
Stephanie@RefugeeAllianceOfCentralIowa.org
515.344.1209


SURJ in-person meetings on hold – take action through these educational resources

Currently, SURJ is not meeting in person because of the need for bodily distancing. Keep social solidarity going by taking another step in your journey to better understand the immigrant detention system in the US. Then, take action!  During times of systemic shock like our current circumstances, corporate interests will use the opportunity to strengthen their power and profits. But we have an opportunity to work and advocate for systemic change in the immigration and incarceration systems.

Below is a list of things you can do. SURJ is working with the American Friends Service Committee, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and Iowans for Immigrant Freedom (IFIF), an organization based in eastern Iowa that has been working on visitations at the Linn and Hardin county jails. These groups organize to support people detained by ICE in the Polk County jail visitation program for persons detained by ICE. Will you support this work by educating yourself and taking action?

Education resources – choose one or more:

    1. Watch Brave New Films Immigrant Prison Series.
    2. Visit the immigrant rights page at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) website.
    3. Visit the Freedom for Immigrants website to learn about their work.  IFIF and DSM SURJ agree to their values and they provide resources to jail visitation programs and persons detained.
    4. Subscribe to IMM-Print, a publication by and for persons affected by immigrant detention.
    5. Read Detention-101 from the Detention Watch Network.
    6. Read the ACLU-Iowa letter to state agencies regarding the coronavirus crisis and it’s impact on prison populations including persons detained by ICE.
    7. Watch this segment from Democracy Now! On mutual aid to consider new ways of building resilient communities.
    8. Watch this segment from Common Dreams on how powerful interests such as corporations will use this pandemic to increase their power and how we can frame an alternative narrative.

Financial Support – local organizations need our support

    1. Support any of the organizations listed above by going to their donation link.
    2. Support local organizations provided support to persons detained and their families.

Advocacy: Take action

    1. Become part of ACLU-Iowa’s Rapid Response Team to get updates on state legislation related to immigrant rights that you can use to contact legislators.
    2. Freedom for Immigrants, Detention Watch Network, and AFSC all have national campaigns you can participate in.  Find these on their websites.  They provide drafts of letters and talking points.
    3. Reach out to your state legislators to advocate for immigrants in detention, particularly, as it relates to the issues outlined in the ACLU-Iowa letter.

Direct Action

    1. Join the DSM SURJ Immigrant Rights or Education working groups.  Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com for more information.
    2. Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com if you might be interested in being involved in the Jail Visitation program either as a visitor volunteer or as a member of our steering committee.
    3. Volunteer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Des Moines based mutual aid group run by the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists.
    4. Volunteer with Community Support Des Moines, a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) mutual aid group.

DSM SURJ Newsletter, 5/3/2020

SURJ meeting Sunday 5/3 via Zoom

Covid-19 advocacy for incarcerated persons

PLEASE FILL OUT THE GOOGLE FORM TO GET THE ZOOM LOGIN INFORMATION:    https://forms.gle/XLrXzSVVUZKkKXuH9

Sunday May 3rd 6:00 pm – no later to 7:00 pm. Meeting on Zoom. We will gather to virtually reconnect after two months of no meetings. Then, we’ll do some advocacy for the release of folks from local jails to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to them and the wider community.  In addition to people being held by local law enforcement, our county jails hold people who have been detained by ICE while their immigration cases are pending.

We are asking our members to write at least one letter to your local officials advocating for the release of persons being held in our local jails who are being held for low-level offenses, are going to be released soon, are in jail awaiting trial but can’t afford bail, or are being detained by ICE, especially those in poor health.

We will be providing talking points along with names and addresses of state and local official recipients.  We hope you can join us! Questions – contact dsmsurj@gmail.com.

Facebook Event – https://www.facebook.com/events/270641344069023/


Donate now: Provide COVID-19 resources to Central Iowa refugee communities

Please consider a donation to the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI).  Their mission is “To assure a welcoming community for refugees in which they have an equal opportunity to achieve individual growth and prosperity and to fully participate in civic and cultural life and to increase awareness of and access to services, resources and programs so that refugees receive the maximum benefit as they resettle and become participatory citizens in central Iowa.”

They need funds to make videos of updated public health COVID-19 information for non-English speaking and non-literate folks.  The cost is about $50 per video and there are many languages spoken by refugees in central Iowa.  There are no public health funds to support this work.

They do not have a way to donate online, so you will need to mail a check or contact them directly to ask how to donate:
Stephanie Moris, Director
1401 Center Street
Des Moines, IA 50314
Stephanie@RefugeeAllianceOfCentralIowa.org
515.344.1209


SURJ in-person meetings on hold – take action through these educational resources

Currently, SURJ is not meeting in person because of the need for bodily distancing. Keep social solidarity going by taking another step in your journey to better understand the immigrant detention system in the US. Then, take action!  During times of systemic shock like our current circumstances, corporate interests will use the opportunity to strengthen their power and profits. But we have an opportunity to work and advocate for systemic change in the immigration and incarceration systems.

Below is a list of things you can do. SURJ is working with the American Friends Service Committee, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and Iowans for Immigrant Freedom (IFIF), an organization based in eastern Iowa that has been working on visitations at the Linn and Hardin county jails. These groups organize to support people detained by ICE in the Polk County jail visitation program for persons detained by ICE. Will you support this work by educating yourself and taking action?

Education resources – choose one or more:

    1. Watch Brave New Films Immigrant Prison Series.
    2. Visit the immigrant rights page at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) website.
    3. Visit the Freedom for Immigrants website to learn about their work.  IFIF and DSM SURJ agree to their values and they provide resources to jail visitation programs and persons detained.
    4. Subscribe to IMM-Print, a publication by and for persons affected by immigrant detention.
    5. Read Detention-101 from the Detention Watch Network.
    6. Read the ACLU-Iowa letter to state agencies regarding the coronavirus crisis and it’s impact on prison populations including persons detained by ICE.
    7. Watch this segment from Democracy Now! On mutual aid to consider new ways of building resilient communities.
    8. Watch this segment from Common Dreams on how powerful interests such as corporations will use this pandemic to increase their power and how we can frame an alternative narrative.

Financial Support – local organizations need our support

    1. Support any of the organizations listed above by going to their donation link.
    2. Support local organizations provided support to persons detained and their families.

Advocacy: Take action

    1. Become part of ACLU-Iowa’s Rapid Response Team to get updates on state legislation related to immigrant rights that you can use to contact legislators.
    2. Freedom for Immigrants, Detention Watch Network, and AFSC all have national campaigns you can participate in.  Find these on their websites.  They provide drafts of letters and talking points.
    3. Reach out to your state legislators to advocate for immigrants in detention, particularly, as it relates to the issues outlined in the ACLU-Iowa letter.

Direct Action

    1. Join the DSM SURJ Immigrant Rights or Education working groups.  Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com for more information.
    2. Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com if you might be interested in being involved in the Jail Visitation program either as a visitor volunteer or as a member of our steering committee.
    3. Volunteer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Des Moines based mutual aid group run by the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists.
    4. Volunteer with Community Support Des Moines, a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) mutual aid group.

May 3: Zoom meeting online (see top of page)

May 17: We will confirm: Education and Immigration working groups (This and every third Sunday). This and ALL third Sundays of the month. Join us to build connections and deepen our commitment to equity in education and immigration justice in Des Moines. Why working groups? Two reasons: 1) We hear from the educational and immigration groups with which we are in relationships of accountability. 2) We set the stage for successful, long-term action as a group. This is your opportunity to plug in deeper with SURJ. Whether you’ve been to many SURJ meetings or this is your first one, you’re invited!

Join us! Newcomers, returnees and longtime participants always welcome. DSM SURJ meetings are the first and third (working group) Sundays of each month, 6-8 pm at Drake University.  Childcare provided. All meetings held at Medbury Honors Lounge at Drake University at 6:00 pm. Park in the Olmsted Center Parking Lot located at 2875 University Avenue.

DSM SURJ Newsletter, 4/20/2020

Online, on-phone, donation action needed: Racial Justice & COVID 19

Donate now: Provide COVID-19 resources to Central Iowa refugee communities

Please consider a donation to the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI).  Their mission is “To assure a welcoming community for refugees in which they have an equal opportunity to achieve individual growth and prosperity and to fully participate in civic and cultural life and to increase awareness of and access to services, resources and programs so that refugees receive the maximum benefit as they resettle and become participatory citizens in central Iowa.”

They need funds to make videos of updated public health COVID-19 information for non-English speaking and non-literate folks.  The cost is about $50 per video and there are many languages spoken by refugees in central Iowa.  There are no public health funds to support this work.

They do not have a way to donate online, so you will need to mail a check or contact them directly to ask how to donate:
Stephanie Moris, Director
1401 Center Street
Des Moines, IA 50314
Stephanie@RefugeeAllianceOfCentralIowa.org
515.344.1209


SURJ in-person meetings on hold – take action through these educational resources

Currently, SURJ is not meeting in person because of the need for bodily distancing. Keep social solidarity going by taking another step in your journey to better understand the immigrant detention system in the US. Then, take action!  During times of systemic shock like our current circumstances, corporate interests will use the opportunity to strengthen their power and profits. But we have an opportunity to work and advocate for systemic change in the immigration and incarceration systems.

Below is a list of things you can do. SURJ is working with the American Friends Service Committee, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and Iowans for Immigrant Freedom (IFIF), an organization based in eastern Iowa that has been working on visitations at the Linn and Hardin county jails. These groups organize to support people detained by ICE in the Polk County jail visitation program for persons detained by ICE. Will you support this work by educating yourself and taking action?

Education resources – choose one or more:

    1. Watch Brave New Films Immigrant Prison Series.
    2. Visit the immigrant rights page at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) website.
    3. Visit the Freedom for Immigrants website to learn about their work.  IFIF and DSM SURJ agree to their values and they provide resources to jail visitation programs and persons detained.
    4. Subscribe to IMM-Print, a publication by and for persons affected by immigrant detention.
    5. Read Detention-101 from the Detention Watch Network.
    6. Read the ACLU-Iowa letter to state agencies regarding the coronavirus crisis and it’s impact on prison populations including persons detained by ICE.
    7. Watch this segment from Democracy Now! On mutual aid to consider new ways of building resilient communities.
    8. Watch this segment from Common Dreams on how powerful interests such as corporations will use this pandemic to increase their power and how we can frame an alternative narrative.

Financial Support – local organizations need our support

    1. Support any of the organizations listed above by going to their donation link.
    2. Support local organizations provided support to persons detained and their families.

Advocacy: Take action

    1. Become part of ACLU-Iowa’s Rapid Response Team to get updates on state legislation related to immigrant rights that you can use to contact legislators.
    2. Freedom for Immigrants, Detention Watch Network, and AFSC all have national campaigns you can participate in.  Find these on their websites.  They provide drafts of letters and talking points.
    3. Reach out to your state legislators to advocate for immigrants in detention, particularly, as it relates to the issues outlined in the ACLU-Iowa letter.

Direct Action

    1. Join the DSM SURJ Immigrant Rights or Education working groups.  Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com for more information.
    2. Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com if you might be interested in being involved in the Jail Visitation program either as a visitor volunteer or as a member of our steering committee.
    3. Volunteer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Des Moines based mutual aid group run by the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists.
    4. Volunteer with Community Support Des Moines, a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) mutual aid group.

May 3: Cancelled due to COVID 19.

May 17: We will confirm: Education and Immigration working groups (This and every third Sunday). This and ALL third Sundays of the month. Join us to build connections and deepen our commitment to equity in education and immigration justice in Des Moines. Why working groups? Two reasons: 1) We hear from the educational and immigration groups with which we are in relationships of accountability. 2) We set the stage for successful, long-term action as a group. This is your opportunity to plug in deeper with SURJ. Whether you’ve been to many SURJ meetings or this is your first one, you’re invited!

Join us! Newcomers, returnees and longtime participants always welcome. DSM SURJ meetings are the first and third (working group) Sundays of each month, 6-8 pm at Drake University.  Childcare provided. All meetings held at Medbury Honors Lounge at Drake University at 6:00 pm. Park in the Olmsted Center Parking Lot located at 2875 University Avenue.