What we learned in our visit to Court Avenue this evening was that essentially the City of Des Moines and the Court Avenue District Association are running a bluff on their patrons.
When the new Court Avenue Entertainment Zone was announced to the press nearly three weeks ago, it was clearly stated that weapons would be banned from the zone. Since the City is prohibited by state law (Iowa Code 724.28) from issuing such a ban and since private businesses can’t be allowed to enforce their own rules on public streets and sidewalks, IFC immediately reached out to the Des Moines City Manager, the City Attorney’s office, the Des Moines Police Department, the President of the Court Avenue District Association, and other involved parties. We had limited success in engaging with most of them, but did have good early conversations with the City Manager and the Police Department. We also sent emails explaining in detail our concerns with the legality of the security plans as they were originally represented.
It appeared to IFC that the Police Department itself had reservations similar to ours regarding the announced plans. We believe that our pro-active involvement in this issue has caused the actual implementation of the new security protocols to be significantly altered from what was originally intended.
IFC understands why the City and business owners wish to reduce the potential for violence in the Court Avenue District, but we will insist that the law be honored and the civil rights of honest citizens shall not suffer abuse in the name of “safety”. Our position should NOT be misconstrued as advocating – or even tolerating – going armed while intoxicated. That is a crime in and of itself, regardless of whether one possesses a Permit to Carry Weapons.
In our view, the security protocols being employed – as explained by the supervisor in the interview – remain somewhat sketchy. The Court Avenue businesses have a city permit to close the streets to traffic for the purposes of allowing them to expand their table service and entertainment onto the streets and sidewalks. But does this give them authority to limit who can be admitted to those still public spaces?
IFC will continue to monitor this matter. (Thank you, Richard!)