IOWA CITY — Protesters gathered on the pedestrian mall in Iowa City to speak-out against police abuse and brutality, not only in Iowa City, but across the nation.
“It’s not just a police issue, it’s a community issue,” said Frederick Newell, 26, of Iowa City. Newell, an African American, moved to Iowa City in 2006 from Chicago to attend the University of Iowa. He has lived in Iowa City ever since. “People in the community call the police because they’re scared.”
Newell says he dresses in a shirt and tie on a daily basis to avoid negative stereotypes by police and others in the community.
More than 100 people of many different races and backgrounds attended the event. Some held signs that said “don’t shoot,” a phrase that has gained attention after the police shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed black teen, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Some protesters also called for justice for the Brown family, while others expressed concerns that a similar situation could happen in Iowa City.
Protesters also criticized the militarization of local law enforcement, specifically a mine resistant vehicle recently obtained by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
“I don’t understand why they would need that kind of equipment,” said Latisha McDaniel. “I would think our law enforcement would have excellent training that they could handle a situation like that without having a tank.”
The protest, which lasted more than an hour, was peaceful with no incident. No police officers were seen in the area throughout the rally.
“This is not an anti-police rally, this is an anti-police abuse,” Lt. Troy Kelsay of the Iowa City Police Department said before the protest. “I’m on board with that, I’m anti-police abuse and anti-police brutality too, I’m all for that.”