DES MOINES, Iowa -- The ACLU of Iowa has now weighed in on the way two black men were treated by Des Moines Police during a recent traffic stop last month. The Des Moines Police Department is doing an administrative review of the stop to see if it was appropriate.
On Wednesday, Iowa CCI released dashcam and body camera videos of the stop. The advocacy group obtained the videos through an open records request. Iowa CCI calls it a textbook example of racial profiling. On Thursday, the ACLU of Iowa said no one should be treated the way these two black men were treated.
"In the very beginning, in the first few minutes of the video, you see the driver put his hands up, literally put his hands up," said Daniel Zeno, the ACLU of Iowa's Policy Director. "This visual reminder, this visual confirmation, tells us we got a lot of work to do. It reminds us of what people of color have consistently said about the fear they feel when they are stopped by police in every police encounter."
Zeno says interactions like this lead can cause people of color to not feel comfortable calling the police to report crimes.
"We know there are sometimes when black people are stopped, people of color are stopped, and it results in injury or death," said Zeno. "We also know there are thousands of other cases like this, where this stop, this encounter happens, and then the people are let go. That leads to more distrust, more fear, and we believe, we can do better, and we should do better."
Zeno says that's one of the reasons why why the ACLU of Iowa wants Des Moines Police to collect race data on all of its stops, not just the ones where an arrest is made.
“We think it’s partly implicit bias, partly racial profiling by the police," said Zeno. "I mean, we can’t know, we don’t know the actual reason why this officer stopped these two men. All we know is two black men were driving in Des Moines in a car, appearing to follow all the rules and then they were stopped by the police. And, that’s a story that people of color have consistently said, 'I get stopped by the police all the time. I don’t know the reason, they don’t give me a reason, and it appears it’s because I’m black and it happens to me and other people who look like me and it just keeps happening and there’s no data about it.'”