Group protests police brutality after the death of George Floyd
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Protesters gathered in front of the Linn County Courthouse Thursday pushing for better policing after the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd.
Floyd was handcuffed on the ground and held down by an officer’s knee Monday. Floyd begged the officer to get off his neck for minutes saying he can’t breathe. Police claimed Floyd was resisting arrest, although security camera video from a nearby restaurant doesn’t back up this claim.
“We gathered because of the death of George Floyd of Minneapolis, Minnesota,” said Misha Boots of Cedar Rapids. “We are here to stop the police brutality.”
Misha Boots is one of the people who organized the protest. She said she has always felt frightened when an officer is around, and she isn’t alone.
“When I was 23, my very first time getting arrested, the booking officer said to the arresting officer ‘oh wow, he’s a late bloomer,’” said Josh Booth of North Liberty. “I didn’t understand what that meant at the time.”
Booth said unfair and uneven treatment isn’t new, it’s just getting more attention. "It’s more trauma when you see black killed because of the history behind it,” said Booth.
“The history behind the police brutality. We can go back to the 50s to the 60s to 70s."
Another name shared the poster boards with Floyd’s, Jeremi Mitchell. Mitchell is a Cedar Rapids man who Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones pulled over for a broken license plate-light in 2016. Officer Jones said he smelled marijuana, an altercation ensued, and Mitchell was shot in the neck. He was paralyzed from his injuries.
“That video is hard to watch because you saw the exact moment where it went wrong,” said Booth. “When you see the video in the news and you are like 'stop right there, man, just stop right there.’ If I just go back and stop right there.”
Booth said he realizes most officers are good but said police departments need to be vocal when officers don’t uphold their duty to serve and protect all people. Booth applauded the CRPD’s stance on the Floyd Case.
“I think I speak for every member of our department that video and the images on the video are very disturbing,” said Chief Wayne Jerman of the Cedar Rapids Police Department. “They are inconsistent with the values of the Cedar Rapids Police Department, and we do not train or endorse any of the procedures that were used in Minneapolis.”
Chief Jerman said any time an incident like this happens, it erodes the relationships his officers have built.
“You have to have the community members trusting you just as much as the officers trust the community members,” he said. “It goes a very long way in promoting the safety of the community.”
Boots believes the police department in Cedar Rapids hears their concerns, but what happened to George Floyd demonstrates how far there is to go.
“We’ve had enough we want respect we want justice for George we want justice for all the individuals who haven’t had their justice yet.”
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