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Two groups form to fight racial injustice in Iowa City

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 4:54 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The Truth and Reconciliation Commission met with the Iowa City City Council Thursday for the first time after being suspended.

The city council suspended the commission after five of its members resigned.

“I felt like we took a step back,” said Vice Chair Amel Ali.

Ali was one of the original members of the commission before its suspension. She said it was going to take some time to earn the community’s trust after a tumultuous start to the commission that resulted in more than half the members quitting. Ali believed in the purpose of the TRC and felt it could be successful.

“I want to make changes that stick,” she said, “I want to center people who have had harm done to them, whether that be by police, by a job, or by a landlord. I want to center on those victims of those situations and take into account how they want this harm addressed.”

Still in its infancy, the re-formed commission still has to create a budget, bylaws, and sub-committee. Ali said she hoped to be able to hold the council accountable. She wants to ensure her committee would have a say in how the city tackles race-based discrimination.

“I want to know how much the city council will be intervening and what that would look like in the future,” she said.

The creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was one of the original demands from the Iowa Freedom Riders following protests in June. After the city council voted to temporarily suspend the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, the Iowa Freedom Riders decided to

At the same time city council met with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Iowa Freedom Riders held a public meeting for their newly established group, the People’s Truth and Reckoning Commission.

Thursday night, Iowa Freedom Riders and dozens of people from the Iowa City community met at Chauncey Swan Park.

“Since we proposed the idea of a TRC, why not just create our own, because we know that we are for the people, we started this organization for the people, so the end of the day doesn’t really matter what the government wants to do or what the system wants to do. We are here and dedicated to doing the work,” Ala Mohamed, one of the Iowa Freedom Riders, said.

The Iowa Freedom Riders say they want this group to be created by and be accountable to the public. One of the goals of the commission is to have a place for people to talk about injustices they’ve experienced.

”We envision holding space where our community can raise these grievances and acknowledge them and also figure out ways to build direct action around those issues,” Raneem Hamad, a member of the Iowa Freedom Riders, said.

Organizers say ideas for the structure and members of the commission will come from future meetings.

The next public meeting on the People’s Truth and Reckoning Commission will be in two weeks, at Weatherby Park.

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