‘Try to explain to me that’s OK’: Davenport alderman said he’s heard racist epithets in City Hall

Mayor Matson said Ald. Kelly turned down requests for investigation
Davenport Ald. Kelly said he’d heard fellow council members using racist terms in City Hall. On Monday, community leaders said the matter needs attention.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:29 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Most aldermen use the last parts of council meetings to give updates on their wards and to recognize residents.

But at last week’s meeting, 5th Ward Ald. Tim Kelly surprised everyone with his statements.

“When you have a colleague that says stuff to you like, he was a nice colored gentleman, I have to say, we don’t say those words anymore. Then you have a colleague who says what’s up n—, how’s it going, n—, how you doing, n—? And try to explain to me that’s OK,” Kelly said last week.

“This is what I deal with as a councilman in the city of Davenport.”

No one on the council reacted to Kelly’s comments. Mayor Mike Matson made one more announcement and the meeting ended.

Today, mayoral candidate Ken Croken held a press conference where leaders in the Black community spoke out against the city’s response.

Mike Guster is president of a local NAACP branch. He said he was speaking on his own behalf, not that of his organization.

“The N word was used, the word colored people was used. And so let me just say that is something that a word that cannot be used in any context by any number of elected officials, at any time. And so, for that, not to be addressed immediately, and for it to be knocked down at that particular meeting. I am very disappointed. "

Matson pushed back on the notion that city leaders have been slow to respond. He told KWQC-TV6 that he twice asked Kelly if he wanted the city to investigate, and Kelly said no.

Kelly didn’t name the aldermen in his statements. He didn’t respond to a voicemail KWQC left for him Monday.