Law enforcement officers respond to civil unrest in the East Village of Des Moines, Iowa on Friday, May 29, 2020. (Photo Credit: Shane Vander Hart)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Due to the violent outbreak of civil unrest on Friday and Saturday nights, the Polk County Board of Supervisors issued a mandatory stay-at-home curfew effective immediately from 9:00 pm until 5:00 am.

“It is heartbreaking to watch as some businesses started responsibly opening their doors to face this backlash of unrest. It is imperative that we have cooperation from the community to prevent violence and property damage. For this reason, Polk County has no other choice but to make this difficult decision,” Polk County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt McCoy said.

The county’s press release said that the decision is supported by other community leaders and law enforcement, as well as, Gov. Kim Reynolds.

“For the past two days, thousands of Iowans gathered together in our Capital City to peacefully and respectfully protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the societal injustices it represents. But each of the past two days, those responsible protests have been overshadowed by violence that threatens lives and our community,” Reynolds said in a released statement. “Violence, in any form, is unacceptable, and must come to an end. I support Polk County’s decision to implement a 9:00 p.m. curfew.”

“I am grateful for the respectful and restrained way in which the Des Moines Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Iowa State Patrol have approached the situation this weekend,” she added. “Senseless acts of violence do nothing to rectify injustice or fix problems. I encourage all Polk County residents to follow this curfew, stay at home and do their part to stop the violence that has disrupted the lives of so many over the last couple of days.”

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie issued a statement of support for the curfew as well.

“Unfortunately, the City of Des Moines has recently spent all of our efforts dealing with vandalism and violence instead of focusing on meaningful policy and cultural changes,” he said. “The City is very supportive of the peaceful rallies, marches and candlelight vigils to commemorate George Floyd and his family.”

Cownie went onto say, “Violence and riots in the streets of Des Moines are not the way to honor the death of George Floyd. We need to seek solutions to the challenges so many of our communities face these days. That is what is needed right now: communication and cooperation.”

The City of Des Moines City Council and the Civil and Human Rights Commission are expected to reconvene in June to discuss progress on Bridging the Gap Initiativesand ways to continue to improve relationships between the City and community.

“Des Moines City leaders are always open to having productive discussions on policies and procedures that will strengthen and improve our community. That is how Des Moines will come together – not through violence in our city streets” said City Manager Scott Sanders.

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