Marion Alliance for Racial Equity calls for change at its first protest

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 11:25 PM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - Before embarking on a two-mile march Monday through Marion, protesters demanding change and equity in their city chanted the names of Black people who died as a result of police brutality.

The people those names belonged to weren’t from Marion. A new advocacy group, the Marion Alliance for Racial Equity, said that doesn’t mean Marion doesn’t need change.

“I think a lot of people sometimes think of Marion and think it’s a safe place, it’s a welcoming place,” Janessa Carr, a co-founder of Marion Alliance for Racial Equity, said. “But when you talk to people of color, they don’t have that same shared experience that the majority does.”

The group is demanding six changes to try to improve Marion:

  1. Stop racial profiling in traffic stops and establish a Marion Citizens Police Review Board with the authority to require and analyze data.
  2. Decriminalize marijuana and repair damage done by unfair and unjust practices.
  3. All city departments must continually work to be more welcoming, inclusive, respectful, and diverse.
  4. Open doorways to make voting easier.
  5. Mental health liaison available for Marion Police crisis calls.
  6. Jerry Vander Sanden must resign.

The founders of the alliance said police reform isn’t the only reform Marion needs.

“We’re here to dismantle racism in every system that exists in Marion,” Carr said.

Carr also said going forward, they’re encouraging people to get involved and engaged by attending Marion city council meetings.

“What’s really making a difference is when we’re speaking to people who are making laws, people who are making policies here,” Carr said.

Monday’s march and protest were the alliance’s first after starting up last month. Its founders said it’s the first — but not the last — step on the path to change in Marion.

“Because the truth is that it’s going to take so much more than these six demands to make the kind of change that needs to happen,” co-founder Sophia Joseph said.

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