A project of the Center for Community Change

From the Field: Update from Iowa CCI Latino Organizing Project

Ruth Schultz, an organizer with Iowa Citizens Community Improvement, provides this update on the CCI Latino Organizing Project:

It’s been a busy week!  We organized a powerful wage theft action to publically call out the owner of Margarita’s Bar and Grill, Ivan Escalona, for not paying his workers. We brought a lively group of 45 people which included some Occupy Des Moines allies! Ivan refused to meet with us or even a delegation of leaders and would not accept our letter.  We got what we came for, though, which was news coverage and a public entrance into this campaign.  All three local news channels featured the action on the news on Friday night and the Des Moines Register wrote an article.  Next step in the campaign: wait a little while to see if Ivan or more workers who he owes money to call us.  We will push for the investigation with the US Department of Labor and put in more complaints against Margarita’s if Ivan refuses to cooperate and change his ways. Here’s a link to CCI’s new website and the news roundup.

Also, 15 CCI members attended the Des Moines City Council meeting last night to speak against the ICE detention center and the repeated postponement of the hearing.  The City Council heard our frustration with the delay loud and clear and set the hearing for Monday, December 19th. We’re pretty sure that December 19th will be the day! We will meet at City Hall at 4:30 pm and everyone should get ready to give testimony.

Finally, we received news from the Polk County Sheriff Department that the Grand Jury hearing on the facts of Deputy Vanhoozer’s alleged assault against three Latino males will be next week.  The Grand Jury is not public but we will stay on top of this issue and report back once we have more information. The Sheriff Department is also working on a list of what offenses are or are not fingerprinted for in Polk County Jail so we can educate our members and the Latino community on their rights after the Sheriff’s announcement at our meeting last month.

Editor’s note: yesterday, Yahoo!News also ran this article on the effects of immigration raids in Iowa — effects that are still being felt more than three years after immigration officials scooped up 20% of Postville, Iowa’s population in a single day.

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