Thousands gather in downtown Waterloo to protest killing of George Floyd

Updated: May. 30, 2020 at 7:21 PM CDT
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) -Hundreds of people filled Veterans Memorial Hall using signs and even 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,” said Joyce Livingston, an activist in Waterloo.

Levingston helped start the event. The group left the park and ended on the lawn of the courthouse.

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

The Waterloo Police Department walked side by side not to keep people in-line, there was no need, the officers were part of Friday night’s event. Levingston said this issue was a complex one. It’s about race, better policing, and out of bounds officers being held responsible. That responsibility is now with the new Waterloo Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald Senior.

“You have to make sure that every officer is adhering to the policies and procedures,” said Chief Fitzgerald. “Sometimes you throw a temperature check on our agencies to make sure that what are doing is consistent with what the community would like to see.”

Chief Fitzgerald doesn't 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,” said Chief Fitzgerald. “The great departments strive to build the bridges, a sense of procedural justice in the community, and reduce the implicit bias that sometimes leads to this type of encounter.”

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

“If they think that this enough, I can tell you that there’s not one person that I know that thinks the charge that was brought upon him is enough,” Levingston said.

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