DES MOINES – Anti-police stickers are popping up around the Drake Neighborhood in Des Moines.
They are causing some concern for people who live in the area. Police are calling the stickers propaganda and say they come from an anti-government, anarchist group that does not have a physical presence in Iowa.
While police do not think there is a real threat, they are still keeping an eye on this.
The note reads, “Community Watch Area: Trust, respect, and communication are essential to healthy community; protect your friends and neighbors from uniformed gang members and other suspicious characters.”
But then in big, bold letters, it says, “Police not welcome.”
Many people in the Drake Neighborhood say they disagree with the negative sentiment.
“I think it’s sad,” said Marcia Schoeppner of Des Moines. “I think it’s too bad that we have things like these on our posts here and I think if anything we should be supporting the police in any way we can.”
Students at Drake University also feel the same way, saying they feel safer with the police around.
“It’s kind of strange that they would have those up since we do have the police department right next to campus, trying to keep all the students safe,” said Drake senior Emily Merten.
So who put up the signs? The link on the sticker goes to the website for CrimethInc, a self-proclaimed, web-based anarchist group. Police say they have seen something like this a few years ago, at a time when there was some political activity in town. But with nothing going on right now, the timing is a little unusual.
“I wouldn’t describe it as being terribly alarming to us,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department. “It’s definitely something we kind of want to keep our finger on the pulse of because they do have a tendency to cross the line into criminal activity.”
And when it comes to who is physically putting these up in the metro, Sgt. Parizek said, “It most likely is somebody local who maybe has some of these views and wanted to go out there and make a statement.”
We spoke to one woman who says she does not support the group, but believes they are starting a valid conversation.
“When I was growing up, the police had a pretty heavy-handed reputation here in Des Moines and I know that’s changed quite a bit, but there continues to be room for improvement,” said Sherrie Taha, who now lives in Slater, Iowa.
But with Des Moines still recovering from the loss of several police officers last year, many people want the signs down.
“It is alarming, especially in Des Moines where we’ve had police shootings,” Schoeppner said. “I think it’s very alarming and disconcerting.”
Des Moines Police say they are very comfortable with their relationship with people throughout the city, including the Drake Neighborhood – and they will not let whoever is behind the signs change that.
Police say whoever put up the signs will not be facing criminal charges, but if any action comes out of them, authorities have no problem making some arrests.