DES MOINES, Iowa – Several protesters were arrested at the Des Moines City Council meeting on Monday evening after the council voted four to three to proceed with their consent agenda without public comment.
There was a request to remove five items in the consent agenda for public comment:
- An extension of the grant performance period for the Project Safe Neighborhood Grant through the Office of Drug Control Policy until December 30, 2021
- An application for funding through the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) Grant Program to contract with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in the amount of $148,500 for de-escalation training.
- Approval of a Joint Application with Polk County for funding through the 2021 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program to be utilized for the purchase of law enforcement equipment in the amount of $169,638
- The purchase of several police vehicles.
- Annual renewal of software maintenance, licensing, and support for the City’s Public Safety Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD System) for the police and fire departments.
Councilman Josh Mandelbaum said that he would support public comment on these items as a group for up to 30 minutes.
Councilman Joe Gatto noted that he didn’t see the need for public comment since money was already allocated for most items, and they were appropriate for the consent agenda.
“So I’m not going to support anything like that just to sit here and be able to take some type of criticism or comments of any kind. I think we’ve already had plenty of that,” Gatto said.
After voting down the motion to allow up to 30 minutes of public comment, the council voted unanimously to approve the consent agenda.
One protester stood on her chair. Mayor Frank Cownie asked her to sit down and said she was disruptive. After appealing for her to sit down, he requested assistance. The City Council voted to go into a five-minute recess as Des Moines Police moved in arrest and remove at least three or four protesters who had signs calling to defund the police. This council meeting is the third in a row disrupted by protesters.
Cownie, in late June, said that he would enforce rules for conduct during city council meetings.