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Students protest ISUPD’s decision on officer-student incident

Joseph Dicklin
Students from across campus come to show support to Dariq Myles demanding the firing of ISUPD officer Frankie Contreras on Feb. 1, 2024 by Park’s Library.

Iowa State students marched in protest Thursday against the Iowa State University Police Department’s (ISUPD) decision not to dismiss Officer Frankie Contreras following an internal investigation of possible excessive use of force by Contreras during a traffic stop in August.

Student organization Color of Love, which organized the protest, is “a student organization that builds community with students of color and provides opportunities for student-based organizing,” according to the group’s Instagram.

The group gathered in front of Parks Library in the Free-Speech zone, where representatives from Color of Love read off the organization’s demands for ISUPD and Iowa State administrators.

After messages from Color of Love members Endi Montalvo-Martinez, Lyric Sellers and Bela Banegas, the group marched to the Armory, where ISUPD is located, to further protest Officer Contreras’ actions and ISUPD’s decision.

Endi Montalvo-Martinez reads off a list of demands following the recent ISUPD incident regarding Officer Frankie Contreras and civilian Dariq Myles at the Color of Love organized protest outside of Park’s Library on Feb. 1, 2024. (Joseph Dicklin)

No ISUPD personnel were present at the protest, and all ISUPD office doors were closed inside the Armory.
However, a group of university employees, including the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, Jordan Brooks and Senior Vice President of Student Affairs, Toyia Younger, followed the group throughout the protest.

A wall of sticky note demands posted around the Armory by protestors on Feb. 1, 2024. (Brittany Huston)

While in front of Parks Library, Mantalvo-Martinez read from the list of demands that Color of Love has listed for Iowa State and ISUPD. The demands include:

  • Immediate dismissal of Contreras
  • Abolishment of quota system for tickets and citations
  • Collection of demographic data
  • Participation in the diversion program through story county human services
  • Investment in holistic safety initiatives
  • Defund ISUPD

Color of Love – Actionable Steps 1_30

Before heading to the Armory, organizers passed out sticky notes for protesters to write their demands for Iowa State and ISUPD. The sticky notes were placed on and around the Armory, including on ISUPD vehicles and outside the ISUPD offices.

Montalvo-Martinez, a junior in healthcare management and co-facilitator of the advocacy department of Color of Love, led the protest with chants from his megaphone, including:
“Hey hey! Ho Ho! Officer Contreras has got to go!”
“Hey hey! Ho ho! ISUPD has got to go!”
“No justice! No peace!”

In 2022, Color of Love created an “art bomb” in front of Curtiss Hall and issued a statement advocating for a cop-free campus at Iowa State. Montalvo-Martinez said this remains the opinion of the organization.

“Our opinion has not changed,” Montalvo-Martinez said. “I feel, like we said during the protest, we’re so passionate about this issue because it comes from personal experience and we know how that works. It’s effective. There’s data to back it, both qualitative and quantitative data that backs up the effectiveness of a cop-free campus.”

Montalvo-Martinez also said Color of Love advocates for more collaboration between Iowa State and students of color.

Endi Montalvo-Martinez speaks to students attending the protest outside of the Parks Library on Feb. 1, 2024. (Brittany Huston)

“Students have a right to co-create systems that impact them and I think the turnout that we had today shows that students are listening, they’re aware and that they are speaking up for their right to co-create this system,” Montalvo-Martinez said.

Sellers, another co-facilitator with Color of Love’s advocacy department, said the group feels uncertainty toward the leadership at Iowa State and its ability to properly handle race-related issues.

“We lack trust in our leadership because we’re not seeing them show up, we’re not seeing them do anything that is reflective of what the student body is advocating for,” Sellers said. “So, [we’re] just continually advocating for needs that they continue to not meet.”

Sellers also commented on the continuous advocacy work the organization is doing to address these issues.

“This is a result of unmet needs,” Sellers said. “We didn’t just wake up one day and say we want to protest Iowa State and the police department, but we’re constantly seeing our needs not being met and then we’re seeing more harm being done to students.”

Ding Tut, a junior in mechanical engineering and member of Color of Love, attended the protest and talked about his experience as a Black male at Iowa State, specifically in the wake of ISUPD’s decision.

“I feel like I’m one of the people affected in this problem […] being a Black male, I just think in my head any day that could’ve been me,” Tut said. “And to think that something would happen like that in this university is crazy to me because that could’ve been me that could’ve been body slammed to the ground.”

Tut also talked about how situations like what happened to Dariq Myles, the student Contreras took to the ground in a Campustown parking lot, could lead to further issues for other students.

“Putting a situation like this out there and people being okay with it allows for the officers to think it can be okay,” Tut said.

Another member of Color of Love, Amarreon Sykes, a sophomore in anthropology, discussed the need for increased mental health support within the university.

“We’re trying to get more mental health people here instead of cops,” Sykes said. “We’re just trying to just think of a cop-free campus, where we can all feel more safe, and situations like this won’t be happening.”

Sykes also commented on ISUPD’s decision to wait to issue a statement on the incident until after the release of the body and dash cam video by Myles in January.

“We didn’t see the footage for months, and it’s just now getting out, and they’re just now talking about it after we bring it up, so it’s kind of disheartening to see,” Sykes said. “They want diversity on this campus and Black and brown students on campus to improve their numbers, but they’re not here protecting us.”

The protest was also made up of students not part of Color of Love who had heard about it from social media and posters around campus.

Iowa State student Prince Tut holds up a sign stating, “This is everyones fight” as he protests just outside of the Armory on Feb. 1, 2024. (Joseph Dicklin)

“It’s extremely upsetting when the people in this town, the people who are attending this school are the ones paying his bills, and all he does in return is come here and harm students,” Emma Lutz, a senior in apparel merchandising and design, said.

Casey Swiderski, a sophomore LAS open option major, said the situation is “terrible.”

“I just really want to support my Black brothers and sisters in the abuse that they’ve experienced here at Iowa State,” Swiderski said.

A petition calling for the dismissal of Contreras, created by Iowa State senior Kyle Kloppe, has received over 3,250 signatures.

“The people of Ames deserve better than this,” the petition states. “We deserve officers who will protect us with respect and dignity, not fear or harm. Please sign this petition if you believe that we need justice for victims of police brutality and systemic change within our law enforcement agencies here in Ames, Iowa.”

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  • D

    David Jackson | Feb 7, 2024 at 6:32 pm

    “Immediate dismissal of Contreras”
    Potentially, but how does this stop him from getting a job at any other police dept? Perhaps he should be charged with assault and given due process in court. That’s how justice works if that’s what you’re really demanding instead of attention.

    “Abolishment of quota system for tickets and citations”
    This is a good demand if such quotas exist. Do they, and what evidence can you present to the public?

    “Collection of demographic data”
    What difference does this make? People were either justifiably cited, arrested, used force upon, or they were not. Identity politics isn’t going to solve any problems, in fact it will only make them worse by doing what it was really designed to do, divide the body politic on the bases of identity. The fact students attending a university don’t understand enough statistics to know correlation doesn’t equal causation insofar as demographic arrest/crime stats and thus aren’t going to tell you anything meaningful, would be wild if it wasn’t so politically lucrative to produce young voters who don’t know any better and latch onto the emotionalism of identity politics.

    “Participation in the diversion program through story county human services”
    How is this related to the incident at hand? The officers need to be trained to be better at violence, not the latest trend in touchy feely policing which has actually lead to the behavior observed in this incident in the first place. Any officer confident in their tactical training’s ability to keep them alive in the event of violence is going to be less likely to engage in violence unless it’s actually necessary.

    “Investment in holistic safety initiatives”
    What the hell does that mean?

    “Defund ISUPD”
    How exactly is the ISUPD, or any other organization, going to improve anything if they’re “defunded?” What do you even mean by that? If they were dissolved and replaced by another entity like the Iowa State Patrol, that would be something, but there would still need to be funding for that and you’re not offering that as a solution. You’re just repeating dogmas of a radical political ideology.

    I wonder of the ISU leadership even realizes this is what they’ve helped devolve much of the student body of higher education into. A bunch of mindless mantra chanting ideologues, with nothing resembling independent, well thought out, fact based proposals or ideas derived from critical thinking. Some of us have concluded this is on purpose, given the effects it has on the electorate over time. Masses of voters wholly incapable of anything more than regurgitating the political groupthink and emotional rhetoric they’ve been told to think by neo-marxist humanities profs.

    Hey hey! Ho ho! I chant simple slogans cause I’m kinda slow.

  • S

    Somebody Else | Feb 2, 2024 at 11:04 pm

    I will agree that Contreras should immediately be disciplined if he was indeed found to be using excessive force. The quota system is a sticky issue, but I lean toward its abolition. The defunding of ISUPD is something I would have to disagree with strongly. It is irresponsible to punish a whole department for the actions of one single officer. And if it’s found that the department needs reform, then more funding is needed to enact that change.

    I would not feel safe with no police presence on campus. I have to wonder what the proof is that a cop-free campus is indeed safer. If there is no trained law enforcement, then the laws will not be enforced.

  • J

    John | Feb 2, 2024 at 9:28 am

    I saw these goofballs in person they looked impotent and pathetic with their wimpy little slogans. Second only to the ISUPD. Hopefully the cop gets disciplined but seems unlikely.

  • R

    Rhondi Ewing | Feb 2, 2024 at 9:22 am

    I just read this whole article and still have no idea what actually happened to the student, and there was only one point of view presented in this article. So no, I will not be donating to this type of student journalism. As an alumni and parent of a student, I think it is very short-sighted to advocate for no campus police. It’s impossible to know how many dangerous situations have been avoided just because criminals know that there is a police presence. Let’s focus on the actual incident and not the hey-hey ho-ho nonsense, please.

  • S

    Stef schmidt | Feb 2, 2024 at 8:15 am

    You need to start this article with a detailed description of what exactly happened to trigger this protest. Most people don’t follow the news.