A peaceful march through various neighborhoods in Des Moines was proven successful for the protesters in attendance Wednesday night.
The group marched from Price Chopper on Ingersoll Avenue to the front doorsteps of Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie's house.
The Des Moines Register reported the group of nearly 1,000 marched for over three hours and took small breaks throughout, including a demonstration on Grand Avenue where the crowd laid on their stomachs for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the same amount of time it took for George Floyd to be asphyxiated by former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.
When the crowd of protesters finally reached Cownie’s neighborhood at around 8:45 p.m., they were greeted with refreshments and support from the neighborhood’s residents.
The crowd spilled out of the streets and into neighboring yards as the mandatory Polk County curfew drew closer. They quickly began their demonstration as Matthew Bruce, a protest leader and member of Des Moines Black Lives Matter, read off a list of demands to Cownie and the fully-geared officers guarding his house, which had a sign reading, “I hear you. I see you. Black Lives Matter” in the front yard.
Cownie took notes as the demands were read:
Lift the mandatory curfew in place in Polk County from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Free those detained in Polk County Jail for peacefully protesting.
Support an anti-racial profiling ordinance in the city of Des Moines.
Restore the voting rights of felons.
Cownie agreed to contact Polk County officials to work to release those detained for peacefully protesting and to move forward with the anti-racial profiling ordinance in next Monday’s Des Moines City Council meeting.
“I will also tell you that I believe [the ordinance] will be passed,” Cownie said to the crowd.
Cownie said he would be meeting with Polk County officials to address the mandatory curfew and potentially have it lifted Thursday.
“The other direct thing we talked about was to reach out to the governor, this is to reinstate the voting rights of those that have served their time and been released,” Cownie said. “They have paid their price, they need to have their voting rights back, and I’ll support that.”
Cownie then asked the officers present to take several steps back from the crowd of protesters. They backed up about 10 feet.
“We’ve got some of the members of our Civil and Human Rights Commission right here,” Cownie said. “I want you to know I pledge to continue working very closely with them and to bring all these things that we’ve talked about to fruition.
“This is a dynamic process. It doesn’t end here tonight, we’re going to keep moving on. Thank you, and Black Lives Matter.”