Iowa governor featured in hip-hop video against violence
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert are featured in local artist Will Keeps' video "Droppin." (WARNING: Video contains profanity.)
On the crowded steps of the Des Moines Police Department, local rapper and anti-violence activist Will Keeps hugged Gov. Kim Reynolds before the debut of his latest music video Thursday morning.
The video, called "Droppin'," features Reynolds and several government, law enforcement and community leaders. Backed by Keeps' music, it depicts a person being shot, community leaders meeting at the police station, and, at the end, a young girl coming forward to say she saw who committed the shooting.
"It's about our city," Keeps said after the video was played for a crowd gathered at the police department Thursday. "All the killing that's going on, all the lost lives ... I want it to stop. I know we all want it to stop. In order for it to stop, we've got to do it together."
The music video is part of what Keeps calls the "Starts Right Here Movement," as he works with local kids to encourage them to stay away from violence and street life. Keeps, whose given name is William Holmes, escaped gang violence in Chicago years ago. Largely motivated by his own children and by the 2015 fatal shooting of 16-year-old Terry Harris in Des Moines, Keeps creates rap music that focuses on stopping violence and showing respect.
Previously: Des Moines police chief stars in hip-hop video
Along with Reynolds, the "Droppin'" video features Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Police Chief Dana Wingert and representatives of Des Moines Public Schools, the Polk County Sheriff's Office, and religious organizations, among others.
Keeps said he wants to bring people from all corners of the community together to combat street violence. In helping Keeps introduce the video, Reynolds, Wingert, acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and local Pastor Andre Brooks agreed.
"We all should be a part of that," Reynolds said of Keeps' efforts to reach out to youth and discourage violence. "We have to figure out how to take this across the community and across the state."
Reynolds and Keeps said they plan to continue meeting on this issue. Keeps has previously worked with the police department on other outreach projects, and he said he is currently working on new music videos with Gregg and the Des Moines Fire Department.
"It's about Iowans stepping up, coming together and doing the right thing for our young people, for our state," Reynolds said. "It is about providing hope for young people in our cities and providing opportunities to see that there is a better life. ... If we collectively work together, we can make a difference."
Though "Droppin'" fits in with much of Keeps' ongoing activism work, he said this particular music video was partly prompted by the high number of homicides in Des Moines this year, including a fatal shooting in front of Monroe Elementary School on May 9, and another fatal shooting in front of Zion Lutheran Church on May 21. Those shootings were not connected with the school or church.
"I was like, y'all have lost your mind. When that kid died in front of the church -- y'all lost your mind," Keeps said.
There has been an unusually high number of homicides so far in 2017. Wochit
While talking with reporters and others at the video's debut Thursday, Keeps noted the courage the young girl had in the video to come forward and tell police what she saw in relation to the shooting depicted in the beginning of the music video. This aligns with Des Moines police's repeated comments that "uncooperative witnesses" are contributing to several homicide cases remaining unsolved.
In the video, the girl is backed by a crowd of people as she approaches local leaders in front of the police department.
"She stood in front of a whole bunch of people and said 'I am not a snitch, I want justice. I've seen who did it, I've seen it all,'" Keeps said.
"I'm done with us being divided," Keeps said. "I'm done with our streets creating their own laws. I'm done with innocent kids, or innocent anybody, getting killed, I'm done with people getting killed period."
To report information about ongoing homicide investigations, call the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4811 or Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa at 515-223-1400.