Welcome to the People’s History: a research project of the 2020 Protests in Des Moines.

Learn More through Article Series in Black Iowa News

Staring in September 2022 and continuing on, we have been releasing our findings in a series of essays in Black Iowa News. Catch up here:

In the Summer of 2020, more than 7,750 demonstrations against police violence and racial bias took place in the U.S. Nearly 95% of which were nonviolent. Fewer than 220 locations reported any form of “violent demonstrations,” defined as involving any acts of vandalism such as graffiti or toppling of statues, property destruction, or violence of any kind against individuals, according to The U.S. Crisis Monitor.

In Des Moines, we know over 40 identifiable demonstrations occurred in and around our city, according to a review of the data by Just Voices found. By the end of September 2020, 208 people had been charged with 281 separate protest-related offenses according to Just Voices independent research. What’s striking is the majority of those charges have since been dismissed and the most people accused who did go to trial were found not guilty by jury or judge, according to Just Voices research. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the City of Des Moines about police misconduct during the protests, Just Voices found.

Why Do This Research?

Our focus in this project is to gather the data related to the most volatile and larger protests. We’ll also collect the stories of the individuals who were there. Our goal is to share what we find and to provide our findings to city officials and the police department. We hope to answer the following questions:

  • Whether the Des Moines Police Department response was proportionate to the incidents.
  • Whether the response was consistent with best police practices.
  • What outcomes resulted from police arrests?
  • Whether arrests of Black and Brown residents were disproportionate to our city’s racial makeup.
  • What steps have been taken to insure accountability for wrongful conduct?
  • What has been the impact on people who were wrongly arrested?

You Can Be Part of the “The People’s History”

If you have a story to share from your experience with the Summer of 2020 protests, we’d love to talk to you. You can help us write the People’s History so the truth can be spoken. Also, we may publish photos or videos you have and would like to contribute to this series.

To contribute your photos, go here.

Please fill out the appropriate form below to share your protest story or to volunteer.

We also invite your help to volunteer with the research or make a donation to this work.