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Cedar Rapids church remembers George Floyd one year after his death, calls Iowans to action to end injustice

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 10:57 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - For nine minutes and 29 seconds on Tuesday night, people at St. Ludmila’s Catholic Church in southwest Cedar Rapids remembered names that included Breonna Taylor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and George Floyd, listening for the same amount of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, killing him one year ago Tuesday.

Yet nearly 10 minutes was not enough time to read all the names.

“The list is by far just a drop in the bucket of names of people of color who have been murdered, killed, lynched, assassinated at the hands of White people, at the hands of our unjust system,” said Mary Beth Neal, a member of the social justice committee at St. Ludmila’s.

“We all have to take responsibility, and we have to change,” fellow committee member Sue Berger added.

The committee organized a service at St. Ludmila’s on Tuesday night called “Be the Light,” as a remembrance for Floyd’s death and a call to action to end racism and racial injustice in the US.

“We, especially as White people, need to make changes, and we need to recognize how we support racism, and we need to be antiracist,” Neal said.

That was the call of protests in Cedar Rapids last summer, led by the Advocates for Social Justice.

Their effect was evident earlier Tuesday afternoon, as the Cedar Rapids city council learned more about the citizen review board they agreed to establish after protesters’ demands. Council members participated in a virtual training session led by representatives from NACOLE, the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.

In the coming weeks, council members will decide who sits on the nine-person board that will oversee the city’s police department, with applications due at the end of May.

“How are you going to measure success? What are the expectations that you, as a city council, have? And how will you continue to actively listen to all those voices?” Brian Corr, NACOLE’s past president, asked council members.

At St. Ludmila’s, they say the fight that led to that change in Cedar Rapids is far from over, and they plan to keep putting in the work to bring it to light.

“Hopefully what was said here tonight, somebody will tell somebody else, and we’ll just keep learning and keep loving,” Berger said.

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