DES MOINES (AP) — A coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday launched a project to document cases of alleged racial profiling by police in the Des Moines area.
The groups — the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, the Iowa NAACP and A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy — will conduct interviews in October and November with people who claim to have experienced racial profiling in the city.
The interviews will be used to map locations around the city where racial profiling may occur, said Ben Stone, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa. The groups also want to identify police officers with repeated complaints of alleged racial profiling.
“Ultimately, the project aims to work with law enforcement and policymakers to stop racial profiling and hold racial profilers accountable,” Stone said.
A message seeking comment from the Des Moines police was not immediately returned Tuesday.
The groups said they define racial profiling as the targeting of individuals by law enforcement for suspicion of a crime based on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.
Organizers want people with experiences of racial profiling to contact them ahead of the interviews, which are scheduled for Oct. 5, Oct. 26 and Nov. 9 at Drake University. They also are welcoming walk-ins.
“We've learned that with racial profiling the most effective way to create change is to collect data,” said Fred Van Liew, justice coordinator for A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy. “You have to have the numbers.”
Van Liew said a multipage questionnaire vetted by survey experts aims to eliminate bias in data collection. The groups hope to collect hundreds of stories over months and possibly years.
“This is a long-term project,” he said.
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