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Iowa City, UI issue joint statement on use of tear gas on protesters

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 12:45 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa City and the University of Iowa acknowledged shortcomings in preparations for protests that ended with law enforcement firing tear gas on protesters Wednesday night.

The mostly peaceful protest Wednesday climaxed at the Dubuque Street ramp onto Interstate 80. Law enforcement set up a line to block protesters from getting onto the interstate and ultimately fired tear gas into the crowd when the protest kept marching forward.

“We deeply regret what transpired Wednesday night with the use of gas and flash bang devices and acknowledge that with better preparations and time we could safely accommodate Interstate 80 access to those that were demonstrating for change in honor of Mr. George Floyd,” the city and University of Iowa said in a joint statement Friday.

A similar protest march Thursday night ended differently, with law enforcement blocking off Interstate 80. State police told KCRG-TV9 there was an informal agreement for the protest to stay off of the interstate, but some protesters went onto the highway anyway. Law enforcement was there but made no effort to limit or contain protesters. State Troopers were not in riot gear Thursday. Eventually, protesters dispersed just before midnight without incident, though there were acts of vandalism and spraypainting in many areas along the protest march.

Before Thursday’s protest, Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague pleaded for peace among the protests and vowed the city will review its police policies and other issues to address racial inequalities. Friday’s joint statement reiterated that pledge.

Here is the full statement:

The City of Iowa City and the University of Iowa are committed to serving and protecting our city and campus with care and compassion.

We deeply regret what transpired Wednesday night with the use of gas and flash bang devices and acknowledge that with better preparations and time we could safely accommodate Interstate 80 access to those that were demonstrating for change in honor of Mr. George Floyd. We are committed to working with all of our government and law enforcement partners to ensure the scenario from Wednesday night does not repeat itself.

More importantly, the City and the University are committed to an open and transparent review of Police Department policies.

As a starting point, Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague has announced his commitment to President Barack Obama’s Police Use of Force Project, as well as a full review of the #8CantWait Project. A review of these campaigns will be initiated with a commitment to thorough public involvement.

The City’s Community Police Review Board will be charged with engaging the public and helping lead this effort to ensure such review is not unduly influenced by City management. Concerted effort will be made to work cooperatively with the University of Iowa Student Government throughout this review.

The men and women of the Iowa City Police Department and the University of Iowa Police Department, along with every single employee of the City of Iowa City and the students, faculty, and staff of the University stand ready to work cooperatively with our community. Racial injustice exists in many forms and we must listen to the voice of the community and act now.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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