Three notable Iowa events that happened on July 4

Independence Day was established to celebrate the July 4, 1776 vote by the Second Continental Congress to adopt Declaration of Independence. But many other noteworthy historical events also happened on this day. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826. New York state abolished slavery on this day in 1827.

July 4 has also been a significant date in Iowa history. Two of the events described below happened within the lifetimes of many Bleeding Heartland readers.

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Minority impact statements in Iowa: History and continuing efforts

Marty Ryan of Des Moines lobbied the Iowa legislature for 27 years and now blogs weekly. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa quarter, printed in the latter part of 2004, is based upon a Grant Wood painting depicting a group of students and their teacher planting a tree outside of a county school. The statement on the coin says, “Foundation In Education.” For many decades, Iowa was noted for its first-in-the-nation education status. Likewise, Iowa has been a consistent leader in civil rights.

In fact, Iowa established some standards of equality long before the federal government or other states.

But racial disparities continue to affect Iowans in many areas of life. A reform the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted more than a decade ago has only slightly mitigated the problem.

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Response to Senator Julian Garrett's racist dog whistle

Nick Mahlstadt responds to the latest newsletter by Republican State Senator Julian Garrett, which is titled “Black Homicide Victims” and enclosed in full at the bottom of this post. -promoted by Laura Belin

Let’s be clear. This is a racist dog whistle piece written by the state senator representing my district, and I won’t be silent. The so-called black-on-black defense is intellectually dishonest and deflects from the actual issues at hand.

Senator Julian Garrett clearly is not interested in grappling with the reality of police brutality, which disproportionally affects people of color in the state of Iowa and the nation. Not only is his commentary a lazy, GOP talking point copy and paste, it perpetuates thinking that causes physical and mental harm to males who are not white and don’t hold power.

First, let’s address his lazy assessment of black-on-black crime.

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Grassley, Ernst silent as Trump, Barr continue purge

Another Friday night has brought another irregular ouster of a federal official whose work should be insulated from politics.

Four days later, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, a self-styled warrior for oversight and accountability in Washington, has said nothing. Neither has Senator Joni Ernst, who like Grassley serves on the committee that oversees the justice system.

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Iowa lawmakers had their chance. Now governor should issue voting rights order

“Let them vote! Let them vote!” Black Lives Matter protesters chanted a few minutes after Governor Kim Reynolds signed a police reform bill on June 12. Reynolds did not acknowledge hearing them, continuing to pass out pens to advocates of the legislation, which the Iowa House and Senate had unanimously approved the night before.

The protesters want the governor to sign an executive order automatically restoring voting rights to Iowans who have completed felony sentences. Iowa has the country’s strictest felon voting ban, which disproportionately disenfranchises African Americans. Reynolds has resisted calls to issue an executive order, saying she wants the legislature to approve a state constitutional amendment on felon voting instead.

The Iowa legislature adjourned for the year on June 14 without the constitutional amendment clearing the Senate.

For many thousands of Iowans with felony convictions, an order from Reynolds provides the only path to voting before 2024. She should issue one as soon as possible.

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Six inspiring speeches on Iowa's "first step" to address police violence

Most bills lawmakers introduced this year to address Iowa’s notorious racial disparities didn’t get far before the Iowa House and Senate suspended their work in mid-March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By the time the legislature got back to work on June 3, large protests were underway daily in Iowa and across the country, in response to the horrific killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Democratic lawmakers unveiled a “More Perfect Union plan” designed to prevent “violent conflicts between law enforcement and Iowa residents” on June 4. A bill incorporating their proposals sailed through both chambers unanimously a week later, with a group of Black Lives Matter protesters watching from the public gallery.

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