Des Moines City Council reconvenes tonight with new rules for speakers, protesters

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DES MOINES, IOWA — The Des Moines City Council will try once again on Monday night to resume in-person public meetings after protesters forced councilmembers to postpone their meeting two weeks ago. That meeting was the first in-person meeting held by the council in more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The June 14th meeting was stopped after protesters interrupted proceedings. It resumed the next day via Zoom.

The agenda for Monday’s council meeting begins with a warning to audience members that a repeat of the actions at the previous meeting won’t be allowed. Guests are warned that they will be removed from the chambers if they are disruptive. If anyone is disruptive during the public speaking portion of the meeting, the council will stop all public comment until its next meeting. Anyone disrupting the meeting could be charged with Disorderly Conduct, the agenda also warns. If the meeting becomes “impossible or impractical” to conduct, it will be immediately moved to a virtual format.

The protesters at the June 14th meeting called on council members to fire Des Moines City Manager Scott Sanders and Police Chief Dana Wingert. The council is responding to those requests on Monday evening by voting on a resolution showing appreciation for both men instead.

The resolution reads in part: “a vocal but small group of residents and non-residents routinely call for dismissal of the City Manager and Police Chief, and while the Council has heard those demands, the Council disagrees with them and wishes to state publicly that it has no intention of firing the City Manager and by law cannot and would not fire the Police Chief”.

It goes on to say: “the City’s police officers face very difficult—if not impossible—circumstances every day in just doing their jobs and the Council acknowledges those circumstances while reinforcing that the City Council will continue to insist on demonstrable improvement in the equitable delivery of police services but wishes to once and for all make clear it supports the City Manager and Police Chief and rejects any and all demands that either should be fired”

Monday’s Des Moines City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:00 pm at City Hall in downtown Des Moines.

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