Cedar Rapids advocates hold memorial for Black lives lost

KCRG-TV9's Mollie Swayne was at a memorial, which doubled as a call for justice.
Published: Feb. 25, 2023 at 11:06 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The focus put on racial justice and police reform by advocates in Cedar Rapids continued Saturday with a memorial for black lives lost to “racialized violence.”

The memorial consisted of portraits displayed on the steps of the Bankers Trust Stage at NewBo City Market. Those portraits included Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many more.

“Anytime I see gathered pictures and memorials, it just kind of makes you think, ‘Where would they be today?’” Ashley Benter, who walked by the display during her visit to NewBo City Market, said.

“It’s not something I was expecting, but it’s hard to pass by and not just stop and take it all in,” Benter added.

Organizers said that was exactly the purpose of Saturday’s display, which was inspired by ofrendas, a tradition from Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

“The importance of it is to show community and highlighting the injustices that have happened here, not only in the United States, but specifically here in Cedar Rapids,” Harold Walehwa, with the Advocates for Social Justice, said.

Walehwa was referencing the death of Devonna Walker back in January. She was fatally stabbed at her apartment complex in northeast Cedar Rapids. So far, no one has been charged in the case.

“She was just a human being that, you know, she was a mother, a sister, a daughter,” Walehwa said.

Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks has said he expects to make a decision about whether anyone will be charged in connection with Walker’s death by the end of this month. Regardless of any charges, those with their names and pictures on display Saturday are gone.

“If their lives hadn’t been cut short, it always kind of leaves you a little emotional because, you know, there’s so much to the story that you never get to know,” Benter said.