Dubuque Racial Profiling Debate Gets Heated at Public Meeting

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

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By Ellen Kurt

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Tiffani Anderson says driving home one night in May, a Dubuque Police officer pulled her car over.

"I'm not breaking any laws I'm not speeding why am I being stopped?" she said.

Anderson said the officer then proceeded to stick his head in the car and look around.

"He appeared to be looking to see if there are any illegal acts going on and asks 'Have you been drinking tonight?'" she said.

Anderson tells us the officer cited her for having a loud muffler. She said this incident is one reason why she went to the racial profiling talk hosted by Dubuque city leaders on Tuesday, but Anderson thinks the talk turned into a lecture, and she felt disappointed by the format.

Anderson and several other individuals spoke up during the comment portion of the presentation. Several witnesses and city leaders said it turned into a heated back and forth between the panel and members of the audience.

"At what point do we say, 'OK, everyone put down your weapons and lets sit at the table and talk,'"she said.

Dubuque has struggled recently with a perception of poor race relations. However, police and community leaders say they can only go on facts.

"I mean name, date, location and time are some of the facts we need," Dubuque City Council member, Lynn Sutton explained . "I'm always concerned when allegations are made, and more concerned when people won't step forward to alleviate the situation."

Sutton said she looked into the accusations made on Tuesday. She found no formal complaints ever filed with the Human Rights Commission, city or any other city official. Police say these are the kind of complaints they need to fully investigate issues of racial profiling.

"Our officers have audio and video recording when they make traffic stops in their squad cars, which quite frankly, have exonerated a lot of officers of false accusations," the Lieutenant said.

City leaders hope the next meeting in the racial profiling series is less tense. Sutton says she encourages everyone to comment and ask questions, but it has to be in a way that benefits both sides.

"We want people to come talk but in a constructive manner and respectful manner," she said.

Sutton tells us she's talked one-on-one with some of the people who commented at the meeting. She said she's arranged for them to meet with the appropriate city officials to get their issues resolved.

To report discrimmination you can call the Human Rights Commission at 563-589-4190.

or to file through their website, click here

You may also contact the city manager at 563-589-4190.
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