Apr 6, 2022 - News

Black KCCI reporter speaks out about treatment at Ankeny school board meeting

A twitter screenshot from Lauren Johnson
Screenshot of @LJohnsonKCCI's Twitter feed

Following an Ankeny school board meeting Monday night, KCCI reporter Lauren Johnson shared on Twitter that she was "shocked" and "embarrassed" by how she was treated when she tried to cover it.

What happened: The meeting centered on the hiring an additional diversity, equity and inclusion position, an open role that the district recently posted and then removed from its website.

  • Johnson had been assured there was space in the meeting for her after checking with the district's communications department earlier in the day, according to the Iowa Association of Black Journalists.
  • But when she arrived, she wasn't allowed inside. Later, the school district's attorney told her she would have to wait to get in and that she was being "loud," she shared on Twitter.

What she's saying: "Shame on Ankeny for trying to keep a Black reporter out of the room during a meeting that was literally about diversity, equity and inclusion. I hope no reporter ever feels the hurt and embarrassment I felt tonight," Johnson shared.

The other side: The Ankeny school district said in a statement that there was an "unexpected" amount of attendees and that more than 50 people were waiting to get in. The room capacity was 35.

  • "Unfortunately, our members of the media expressed an experience we would not want for anyone attending a board meeting," district officials wrote.

Between the lines: Johnson felt that being called "loud" was a coded phrase and is "often used to describe Black people who dare to speak up," according to IABJ.

  • The district has not responded yet to Axios' request for comment about the phrase.

Of note: Johnson shared on Tuesday that the Ankeny school district apologized to her during a private meeting.

What's next: The district said that it'll reserve space for reporters in the future, and that it's looking for larger locations for high-interest meetings.

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