Media Contact

Veronica Fowler, ACLU of Iowa Communications Director
veronica.fowler@aclu-ia.org, 515-451-1777

April 16, 2021

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Mark Stringer.

"Iowa lawmakers have repeatedly promised reform on criminal and racial justice in our state. Instead, right now, we have a policing bill that runs counter to that. It gives police sweeping new powers with even less accountability.

"It's especially disturbing that lawmakers are not keeping this promise even as we see continuing high-profile, unjust shootings of Black people by police.

"The wide-ranging bill as passed by the House is concerning in many ways. Just a few include:

  • Granting special, qualified immunity for police officers that would make it harder for individuals whose rights have been violated to sue the police.
  • Heaping new penalties on protesters. The bill would expand the scope of “unlawful assembly” to cover simply being present at a protest that turns violent.
  • Making it punishable by up to a year in jail to not pull over for an unmarked police car—even if it's driven by an officer not wearing a uniform—whether a person knows it is actually an officer in a police car or not.

"We urge lawmakers to use these final weeks of session to instead pass legislation focused on criminal or racial justice issues, the way they were able to come together last summer and pass a bipartisan bill to ban chokeholds and revoke certifications for officers fired due to misconduct.

"Legislators must fulfill their promise to Iowans that they would take steps to improve criminal and racial justice. It's not too late for this to happen, but lawmakers must act soon."