A Black man believes he was racially profiled after an Iowa police officer arrested him while he was out campaigning for a GOP congressman ahead of last week’s midterm elections.
Keilon Hill, a Baton Rouge native, said he was out knocking on doors for Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) in West Des Moines on Oct. 29 when the incident unfolded, local station WHO-TV reported.
After interviewing a resident, Hill took a seat on the curb as he gathered his notes from canvassing. He said that’s when West Des Moines officer Clint Ray pulled up, claiming he was responding to a call about a suspicious person. Hill, 24, captured the tense exchange on his cellphone.
In the video, the campaign worker is heard telling the officer he isn’t breaking any laws and that the cop has no right to detain him.
“I’m not going to tell you again, stop,” Ray says. “I will detain you.”
“Detain me for what?” Hill responds. “Have I broken any laws?”
“You’re not listening,” the officer says before suggesting “it doesn’t matter” if Hill broke the law or not. “I’m investigating a suspicious person.”
Grassroots organization Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement detailed the incident in a press release on Monday, revealing the officer also accused Hill of “soliciting,” a claim the man refuted because he was not offering any services or goods. The organization argued it was clear Hill was out canvassing because he was carrying campaign pamphlets with him.
When the volunteer tried walking away, Clint arrested him for “Interference with Official Acts.”
“Mr. Hill declined to speak with Officer Ray further because he knew Iowa law does not require a person to identify themselves unless there is reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot, and Mr. Hill was not up to anything illegal,” the press release stated.
According to WHO-TV, Hill was booked into the Polk County Jail and released. He went back to knocking on doors in a different neighborhood the following day where the police were called on him yet again. ICCI said a woman invited Hill into her home so the police would leave him alone.
In a statement, Hill said he hoped sharing his story will help prevent another minority from encountering a similar situation.
“I do not live in this community, but I felt compelled to share my experience,” the Louisiana resident said. “Within five days of my stay in Des Moines, I had two police encounters, with one ending in an arrest. These encounters happened while I was out working in affluential, Caucasian neighborhoods. I had work materials with me. I stood up for myself because I had the right to.”
West Des Moines PD has declined to release police body cam footage from officer Ray’s encounter with the young volunteer, citing an ongoing investigation into the incident.
The incident occurred just days after a Black Republican candidate Rev. Ernestine Holloway, was forced to send several of her campaign volunteers home after a Connecticut state trooper told her she needed a permit to canvass the neighborhood.
Watch more in the clip below.