Back the Blue rally postponed, moved to Marion

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 10:20 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A march organizers say is intending to show support for police, firefighters, and veterans in Cedar Rapids is being postponed.

The Back the Blue, Back the Green Rally was originally scheduled for Saturday morning. Organizer Michael Lambert says the group got permission from the Cedar Rapids Police Department to hold the march around 3 weeks ago. Lambert says they were told they could park on the lot at 1st Street and 1st Avenue SW, that they would be able to use a lane of the road, and that there would be a police escort.

He says the rally needed to be able to use the road so veterans planning on coming who couldn’t walk the distance and motorcycle groups could ride along. Organizers say they also needed space in order to social distance themselves properly. Lambert says after posting the event to Facebook, he was expecting more than 900 people to come.

He says he got a call from the police department Wednesday saying the marchers wouldn’t be able to use the road, the lot, and wouldn’t have a police escort.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department told KCRG in a statement, “The City and Police Department respects the rights of individuals to exercise their First Amendment right of peaceful assembly. The decision to have a march or not have a march is up to the event organizers. The Police Department did have communications with the event organizers and recommended they use the sidewalks for their safety. It is also my understanding that some organizers wanted to park on the grass at 1st Avenue and 1st Street West, however, it is designated as no parking. The Police Department doesn’t provide an escort for a march. During recent protests, officers have needed to assist with traffic control for the safety of protesters and motorists. This information has been communicated to event organizers.”

Lambert says part of the reason the group wanted a police escort was they had been told there would be counter-protesters at the march and wanted to avoid conflict.

The march is currently rescheduled to July 25th in Marion. Lambert says the group has already gotten a permit and confirmed a police escort for that day.

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