Iowa police chief suspended over Facebook comment referring to protesters as 'road bumps'
© Getty Images

The city council in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, voted Monday to temporarily suspend the city’s police chief over a Facebook post appearing to call area demonstrators “road bumps.”

Iowa outlet KCCI shared a video on Facebook earlier this month of a man driving a pickup truck through a crowd of protesters outside of a Hy-Vee store in Des Moines, Iowa. Sioux Rapids Police Chief Tim Porter commended in all caps “hit the gas and hang on over the road bumps,” the Des Moines Register reported.

During a special meeting Monday, the Sioux Rapids City Council voted to suspend the police official for two weeks without pay. He also must take sensitivity training, according to the outlet. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"He will be disciplined," City Council Member Lynda Swanson told area outlet KTIV. "Not only will Chief Porter take this class, but the city council will take the class also because none of us are perfect, and we can learn from the class. Just like he will."

Porter’s comment quickly spread on social media, and residents of the northwest Iowa city encouraged others to call elected officials in the Iowa town to report the comment. 

But a group of residents also attended the Monday meeting in support of the police chief, chanting his name. Some carried signs that said “We Stand By You Chief Porter” and “Chief Porter We Support You 100%,” KTIV reported.

Porter apologized for the comment last week and claimed that he posted it by mistake in a statement to KCCI. 

"I was on another post working and somehow it accidentally was posted on the wrong post,” Porter said, according to KCCI. “I just want to publicly apologize for my horrible mistake, my posting was a total accident. I don't want to offend anyone. I'm all for peaceful protest." 

The June 20 demonstration was organized to support a former Hy-Vee employee who accused the company of racial discrimination, according to the Des Moines Register. Demonstrations also called for protections for employees amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Protests have erupted across the country over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans. Floyd died last month after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes during an arrest. Arbery was shot and killed by white men while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood. Taylor was shot in her Louisville, Ky., apartment in March after several police officers entered with a no-knock warrant while she was sleeping.

The Hill has reached out to the Sioux Rapids City Council for comment.