First person account of the black lives matter protest at hy-vee
by Jason Frerichs
I attended the BLM protest on June 20th at the Hy-Vee at SE 14th St in Des Moines. I want to start by clearing up a couple of lies being spread by the Des Moines Police Department and outdoor sports reporter at the Des Moines Register Dan Young. Mr. Young is trying to claim that BLM protesters were intimidating the elderly. There is a blatant lie. No such thing happened. No customers were harassed. No customers were prevented from leaving the parking lot or the store. The Police claim they were there for the safety of everyone yet a racist man tried to run over protesters with his white SUV right in front of two police officers. Not only did they not arrest him, they allowed him to leave.
Now that we have the falsehoods addressed, why did this protest happen? The background is a 3-year employee named Jassam’ray Johnson was taken away from her role as a cashier and moved to the back of the store due to her involvement with the Black Lives Matter protests. She was sexually harassed by one of her managers. She has stated in multiple Facebook posts that Hy-Vee refused to do anything about the harassment. During the protest, both current and former Hy-Vee employees came out of the woodwork and told protesters about their mistreatment by Hy-Vee. I was informed of the protest by one of my young friends who is also an employee of that same Hy-Vee. My friend told me that multiple employees have contracted Covid-19 and they were threatened with termination if they spoke to anyone about it.
I was there for the majority of the protest and it was a peaceful protest. Despite lies being told on social media, the entire parking lot WAS NOT closed down. The store and one side of the parking lot’s entrances were effectively shut down but nobody was prevented from leaving. I will tell you what I did see. I positioned myself by the entrance across from Walgreens. I witnessed disgusting racial slurs being spewed at protesters. I witnessed people threatening protesters with crowbars and people try to drive into protesters. I witnessed the Des Moines Police ignore obvious attempts at vehicular assault.
I also witnessed members of my community come together and forcefully tell this city that Black Lives Matter. I witnessed people from all over the community, all different races, walks of life, etc.…come together, and say enough is enough. I am aware of the pictures on social media of people dancing on and spray painting a cop car. Is it how I would choose to protest? It is not but you know what? This isn’t about me. My skin color doesn’t put my life in danger. I’m not going to judge what was a harmless reaction to being threatened with physical violence. All of this in front of the police who did nothing. I won’t judge their rage. I am angry too. All lives don’t matter until black lives matter. If you are more concerned with property crime than the insidious and systemic racism that our African-American siblings have to deal with you need to take a good look in the mirror.