Apr 6, 2021 - News

Des Moines activists condemn Cownie's proposal for more city hall security

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie in 2019. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Activists are calling out Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie for suggesting more security at city hall.

Why it matters: Local groups say his proposal casts a damaging image on activists who speak out — sometimes very bluntly — about decisions made by city leaders they feel are oppressive.

The backdrop: Cownie said he's considering banning weapons and installing metal detectors when in-person meetings return, as Axios reported yesterday.

  • He also suggested banning "egregious" rule-breakers from meetings.

What they're saying: The proposal is an overreaction to local residents — many of whom are Black Lives Matter activists — who have felt "underheard" this last year, said Sharon Zanders-Ackiss of Iowa CCI.

  • "It's quicker to demonize people that are passionate about issues and getting something done than it is to just work with them," she added.

Worth noting: Blocking future participation at public meetings is also almost always unconstitutional, according to ACLU of Iowa.

  • The group successfully blocked a ban on some BLM protesters at the Iowa Capitol over the summer.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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