Jun 28, 2021 - News

Des Moines gets strict on City Council disruptions

Protesters chant during a Des Moines City Council meeting in June.

The public hearing portion of a Des Moines City Council meeting earlier this month was postponed due to disruptions. Photo courtesy of the city of DSM’s live meeting video

Des Moines officials are cracking down on protests during City Council meetings, saying police will issue citations against people who violate their rules of conduct.

Flashback: The council's first in-person meeting was cut short earlier this month when a group of protesters filled the room, demanding the city deny a nearly $11K police training in Florida proposed for later this summer.

What's happening: Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie says the city is posting its existing rules of conduct in City Hall, and failure to follow them could result in a misdemeanor charge.

  • The rules prohibit loud or abusive language, interrupting anyone addressing the council and standing in the front when a meeting is underway.

What he's saying: Cownie said the council needs to be able to get through their agenda without disruption.

  • "For those who wish to disrupt and infringe upon the rights of others, there will be consequences," Cownie said in a statement.

The other side: Activists on social media said enforcing the rules criminalizes protesters.

Of note: The council will consider an amendment Monday to no longer allow oral requests for an item to be removed from the consent agenda.

  • Activists often used this time to share grievances over police funding.
  • Only written requests would be allowed under the amendment.

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