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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES --- Racist images and remarks interrupted a virtual political event hosted last week by Iowa Democrats, according to those who participated in the event.
During an event conducted over Zoom, individuals shouted and drew a racial epithet and posted an image of a monkey on the shared screen for all participants to see. Among the event’s participants were three Black state lawmakers and two Black leaders in the Iowa Democratic Party.
“What happened (Friday) was absolutely disgusting, unacceptable, and far too common,” said Iowa Rep. Phyllis Thede, a Democrat from Bettendorf and a Black woman. “The shift to online platforms for work and school has opened the door for a new kind of harassment. But the attacks are unfortunately all too familiar and they will be met with our resolve. We will not let this hatred keep us from standing up and making our voices heard.”
The event in was one of a series of events, hosted by the liberal advocacy group Progress Iowa and multiple partner organizations, designed to present Democrats’ viewpoints on various issues just before the start Monday of the 2022 session of the Iowa Legislature and Tuesday’s Gov. Kim Reynolds’ annual Condition of the State address.
“We will not be silenced. What took place (Friday) night was a scare tactic of cowards and mental terrorists who want to prevent us from being involved in our democracy,” said Al Womble, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Black caucus and political director for the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. “There’s no greater sign that our votes are more important than ever.”
Video from the event and information about attendees was given to the West Des Moines Police Department, according to Matt Sinovic, executive director for Progress Iowa.
“What happened (Friday) night was an appalling attempt to intimidate and silence Black voices in Iowa,” said Ross Wilburn, the first-ever Black chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. “Unfortunately, these despicable experiences of harassment are far too common for Black Iowans. That’s why it’s crucial all Iowans speak up and hold those accountable for bigoted actions and statements.”
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