Des Moines hiring practices don't reflect community's diversity

Joe Henry is a community activist who served on the Des Moines Civil Service Commission from 2013 to 2020. -promoted by Laura Belin

The City of Des Moines’ hiring practices do not reflect the diversity of our community.

Nearly 90 percent of the city’s police department employees (472 total) are white. Only 57 officers are Black or Brown. In addition, the majority of police officers do not live in the city and have never lived here!

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Must-see exhibit chronicles racist housing policies in Des Moines

“They took our land, they took the grocery store, they took the community center,” Joyce Bruce recalled of a project that destroyed the African-American neighborhood anchored by Center Street in the late 1950s and 1960s. “They just wiped that whole block completely out, all, all the way down.”

Bruce’s words and other personal stories are featured in a new interactive exhibit devoted to the history of racist housing policies in Des Moines. Federal government programs and city initiatives over many decades contributed to persistent, wide-ranging racial disparities in Iowa’s largest metro area.

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The 19 Bleeding Heartland posts I worked hardest on in 2019

Five years ago, I started taking stock of my most labor-intensive posts near the end of each year. Not all of these are my favorite projects, though invariably, some of my favorites end up on these compilations.

Before getting to the countdown for 2019, I want to give another shout out to guest authors who poured an extraordinary amount of work into two posts Bleeding Heartland published last year.

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