Cedar Rapids protest organizers call council vote a win

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 9:28 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The organizers of the Cedar Rapids’ protests, Advocates for Social Justice, celebrated Friday after the Cedar Rapids City Council voted in support of all of seven demands for police reform in the city as well as the firing of the former Police Sergeant, Lucas Jones.

The group’s demands include:

  1. Establishing a Citizen’s Review Board
  2. Significant investment in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  3. Banning the use of Chokeholds and Knee-to-neck Maneuvers as well as Strengthening Existing Use of Force Standards
  4. Decriminalize minor marijuana crimes and other lower-level offenses.
  5. Impose Strict Body Camera Provisions.
  6. Make the negotiations between municipal authorities (management) and the bargaining units that represent police officers public.
  7. Abolish Qualified Immunity.

Signs, chants, and pressure on city leaders are what the Advocates for Social Justice said started to push Cedar Rapids city leaders to take action.

“Our community has been able to come together with so many people and stay peaceful,” said Nicole LeGrand, one of the members of Advocates for Social Justice. “Change is actually happening.”

The city council didn’t just vote unanimously in support of the seven demands but said it was committed to working on what change will look like.

“I know it seems like dark times, and yeah it is, but I look at this as an opportunity for all of us to engage with the community and the department,” said Council Member Dale Todd.

The group also called the firing of former Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones a win but worry the timing could be political.

“We’re really happy to hear about the termination of Lucas Jones, but the timing may have been questionable,” said LeGrand.

Jones gave us this statement saying in part:

“I have served this city honorably and with great pride. I refuse to continue to allow a false narrative about me to be disseminated.”

“The protests for Mr. Floyd are just. What the officer did in Minneapolis is disgusting and disgraceful but to see the chief cave to political pressure from a small group who hijacked the protests for Mr. Floyd for their own gain is beyond comprehension.”

Jones is appealing that decision.

LeGrand said just because the council is on board doesn’t mean the group isn’t going to continue to keep the pressure on until change happens.

“Anybody who thinks that it’s not worth it to come out or protesting is a bad thing, that’s not the case,” she said. “These things need to happen in order to incite change, and this is what we’re doing.”

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