#BlackLivesMatter: Des Moines to Baltimore

Hey, Iowans! I just wanted to make you all aware of an upcoming action in Des Moines in support of the uprising in Baltimore. Details of the event can be found on the poster below or on the Facebook event page, but to sum it up, folks will be meeting at the row of flags across from Smokey Row at 19th and Cottage Grove at 4pm on Monday, May 4, and moving on from there.

The event description on Facebook reads:

We are outraged by the killing of Freddie Gray and many other Black and Brown folks who have been brutalized by police. On May 4th we will stand in solidarity with the families and cities who are mourning the wrongful deaths of their loved ones. Nearly 400 black and brown folks have been shot by the police in 2015. We must continue the #BLACK LIVES MATTER here in Iowa and continue to stand up and fight injustice!!!

I’m not sure yet if I’m going to be there, but if I am, I’ll be using the hashtags #BaltimoreUprising and #DesMoinesToBaltimore/#DMtoBaltimore #DSM2Baltimore on my Twitter, @christinesalek. And if I don’t end up making it out there, I’ll be boosting others’ posts from the action.

Related links:

  • Earlier today, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged the six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray with crimes ranging from second-degree murder to misconduct in office.
  • A 2013 segment from All In With Chris Hayes has resurfaced, wherein Hayes and then-Gawker editor Cord Jefferson satirically examine the discrepancies between how white and black people are portrayed in the media.
  • Larry Wilmore went to Baltimore a couple of nights ago to interview rival gang members about their “truce” in the wake of the Freddie Gray protests.

[event poster by Carrie Fisher from the Facebook event page; shared with permission]

Voting in Iowa (and other information)

My first job out of college was as a temporary election clerk in Iowa City, where I processed and fulfilled absentee ballot requests, helped register new voters, tested ballot-counting machines, and answered questions from the public about voting deadlines and Election Day rules (for the 2012 general election). I am by no means an expert in the field, but that experience absolutely helped me better understand how the process works from the inside out, opening my eyes to both the immense amount of work involved in running a successful election and how many ways it can totally fall apart.

As far as voting goes, Iowans are relatively lucky. The ongoing sweep of restrictive voter ID laws across the country has not impacted this state. Unless you are registering to vote on Election Day, it is extremely unlikely that you will be asked to show ID at the polls. Additionally, Iowa probably has the longest early voting period in the country, lasting from when ballots become available (for this election, that was around the end of September) to the day before Election Day.

Regardless of where you live, I encourage you to look up voting laws and regulations – especially those pertaining to voter ID, early voting, and accessibility – for your state. While Iowans have a relative wealth of opportunities in these areas, it is absolutely shameful that states exponentially larger than us have shorter early voting periods, and, in many cases, voter ID requirements that are nearly impossible to fulfill for thousands of already-marginalized voters.

Below, I have provided a few links to Iowa election-related information, along with a fancy voter information tool, where you can look up your polling place and read (most of) your ballot.

Voting in Iowa (Ballotpedia)

Election Day FAQ (Iowa Secretary of State)

Election Day Registration (Iowa Secretary of State)