DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference on Monday on the steps of the State Capitol Building to address the civil unrest in Iowa over the last 72 hours.
Reynolds was joined by Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, State Rep. Ako Adul-Samad, Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert, Iowa-Nebraska NAACP President Betty Andrews, and Isaiah Knox from Urban Dreams.
“Today we’re here to stand united as Iowans, and as Americans, united in grief and anger, over the unsettling and criminal act of violence that robbed George Floyd of his rights and his life on a street in Minneapolis, united in solidarity with those who exercise their right to demand swift justice and to take a stand against injustice through peaceful protest and united as one community saying in unison, that violence is not the aim, and that we will protect and defend the safety of our people,” she said.
Addressing the rioting and looting, she praised Polk County, Scott County, and Council Bluffs leaders for their implementation of a curfew to stem unrest. Reynolds also said she ordered the Iowa National Guard to stand ready for the event they are needed.
Reynolds also praised the actions of law enforcement, as did Cownie.
“I want to thank the Des Moines Police Department for their heroic efforts over the past three nights, their professionalism that was on display and beyond reproach,” he said.
Adul-Samad noted that the rioting and looting were by a small group of instigators seeking to hijack the message of peaceful protesters. He said almost all of the protestors were peaceful. He thanked those protesting.
“let me also thank the protesters that came out that was able to educate us, the peaceful protesters that came with the mission that came to talk about justice,” he said.
“We have less than 3% of individuals that had a different message. And they hijacked the message that these young people had. Because their motive was to cause disruption and destroy and disturbance, and if it wasn’t for the relationships that we have built with the Des Moines Police Department, they might have been successful. This could have been a worse situation. But because of the work that we’ve done with the police department, with the governor’s office, with different organizations, we didn’t allow them to hijack it. We knew we had to step in,” Abdul-Samad said.
Reynolds said that implementing curfews was not an easy discussion, and she would like to see them lifted as soon as possible.
“It was something we felt that was necessary to control the violence and the looting that we heard was about to take place across the state. And that is unacceptable. And we’re not going to allow that to happen,” she said.
Reynolds said they hope to identify the instigators to curb potential rioting. She said people who plan to protest peacefully don’t come to protests with bricks, hammers, smoke bombs, and Molotov cocktails.