Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne over the weekend expressed support for people across the country protesting police brutality and racial inequality, going so far as to say she was sympathetic toward those who believe nonviolent demonstrations are not the only way to bring attention to systemic racism in America.
“I hate to see public property being destroyed. I hate to see businesses being destroyed. Obviously, if I had my druthers, we wouldn’t be engaging in any behavior like that,” Axne told WHO-TV. “However, I can see why so many people believe that this is their only route left.
“Peaceful protests have been tried for decades. These are communities of people who have been disenfranchised and left out of opportunity for centuries, who have been suppressed in all aspects — from voting to working, to being targeted when it comes to police departments across the country,” she said. “And so I can understand why they feel that frustration and that there’s no hope left just doing this peacefully.”
Though nationwide protests in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer largely are peaceful, there have been instances of looting and violence. There also are multiple examples of police officers using excessive force with protestors and journalists, including in Des Moines.
“We can see a conversation starting about it, which wasn’t started when it should have been years ago, when practices like these started becoming much more prominent,” Axne said. “…we don’t want to see any more rioting in our cities across this great country of ours. But you know what, I never discount somebody’s opinion on something like that. I don’t walk in their shoes. I have the luxury of standing on the side as a white woman without being harassed or having some label put on me throughout my life.”
Axne told WHO’s Dave Price she recently talked with leaders in the Des Moines area, including the city’s police chief and the head of Iowa’s NAACP, “to ensure that I was listening to the concerns that they have.”
“In my role it’s important that I’m coordinating with people all across our district and our state to make sure we’re addressing those inequities here, these systemic problems, so that we don’t see anymore issues in Iowa,” Axne said. “But it’s going to take a while. This isn’t something we’re going to address overnight. We have to be fully committed as a country to realizing that this is not always a place that’s fair to everybody. There’s a lot of issues that need to be addressed.”
House Democrats unveiled Monday the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 to ban chokeholds as a policing tactic, limit “qualified immunity” for officers, establish a nationwide misconduct registry, end the use of “no-knock” warrants during drug investigations and, in addition to other sweeping changes, make lynching a federal crime.
California Rep. Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said at a news conference today Democrats had more than 200 members in the House and Senate signed onto the bill.
“Speaker Pelosi has said she wants to see a bold, transformative effort, and that is exactly what justice in policing will do,” Bass said.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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