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Hundreds gather in downtown Waterloo asking for change

Published: May. 30, 2020 at 7:38 AM CDT
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - Hundreds of people filled Veterans Memorial Hall using signs while wearing masks to make sure people understand what happened to George Floyd is not acceptable.

“Once those wounds are open by police brutality and excessive force in our families those wounds don’t ever heal,” Joyce Livingston, an activist in Waterloo, said.

Levingston helped organize the event. The group left the park and made its way to the courthouse, led by police.

“As a black woman, it’s hard to speak highly of the police because of the Injustice and police brutality that has been done in our own community,” Levingston said.

The Waterloo Police Department walked side by side not to keep people in line, because there was no need to do so. Instead, the officers were participants in Friday night’s event.

Levingston said this issue is a complex one. It’s about race, better policing, and out-of-bounds officers being held responsible. That responsibility, locally, is now with the new Waterloo Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, Sr.

“You have to make sure that every officer is adhering to the policies and procedures and sometimes you threw a temperature check on our agencies,” Fitzgerald said. “We have to make sure that we are doing is consistent with what the community would like to see out of their police department.”

Fitzgerald doesn’t officially start until Monday, but this was an opportunity to start building trust with the people he will be sworn to protect.

“Every department has its challenges,” Fitzgerald said. “The really great departments strive to build bridges, a sense of procedural justice in the community, and reduce the implicit bias that sometimes leads to these types of encounters."

Levingston agrees with what the new chief is saying, but wants to see justice in action, including for George Floyd.

“I can tell you that there’s not one person that I know that thinks the charge that was brought upon him is enough or will be enough.”

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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