CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — People gathered on Sunday evening with a goal of finding new solutions to end gun violence in the city.
Participants took part in a peaceful gathering and service at Redmond Park.
The event comes after protests fired up in Ferguson, Missouri after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed teen.
The group said the Missouri situation created a chance to reflect on violence in Cedar Rapids.
At the event in the park, the group discussed everything from personal responsibilities to racial profiling. Most of all, however, they shared concerns about gun violence.
“It’s our job, you, my job and every one of us. It’s our job to be a part of the change that we want to see,” said Event Organizer Danielle Holliday.
Participants were fired up and proudly displayed their thoughts and opinions on their signs.
Rosetta Taylor took center stage with her bright pink sign during the event.
“I think the violence has escalated, but I also think that if we can come together and respect each other and respect officials - and officials respect us that it can decrease just like it increased,” said participant Rosetta Taylor.
The group is focusing on decreasing the amount of gun violence.
“We need to train people and educate people to other ways to resolve problems and solutions,” said NAACP Cedar Rapids Branch President Dedric Doolin.
“We think that the change has to start with the people, and if the change happens — it has to happen here. And the problem is sometimes the people in leadership aren’t really listening,” Holliday said.
Police Chief Wayne Jerman attended. He said he’s open to new ideas as his department continues the ongoing battle against gun violence.
“This year we are only half way through August, and we’ve exceeded 2012 numbers, which were higher than 2013. So, we are reversing the trend, which doesn’t sit well with me,” Chief Jerman said.
Organizers said they’re working to figure out how to open lines of communication with city and state leaders.
They said that includes transparency to avoid issues with police. Everyone here, including Rosetta, just wants this to be a big step forward.
“If we work together, it can all be stopped,” Taylor said.
Organizers also focused much of the discussion on relationship with police. Chief Jerman said communication is key, and he wants to hear from every segment of the community. Group leaders said sometimes police can confront people of difference races in a way that initiates complications.
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