‘This is a moral moment for the world’: Images from the protests in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City

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“Understand the largeness of this moment,” Stacey Walker told the people gathered in Greene Square Park on Saturday, June 6. “These will be the pictures our kids see in the history books. We know in our hearts, in our souls, that this is a moral moment for the world.”

More than 2,000 people had come to the Cedar Rapids park for a protest against racism and police violence and to call for action on the systematic problems that make both lethal. It was one of dozens of protests in the Cedars Rapids/Iowa City area sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker was the first speaker introduced during Saturday’s protest, which began at Greene Square Park in Cedar Rapids, June 6, 2020. — Jason Smith/Little Village

The protests have varied. Some were carefully organized by long-time activists, and featured speeches from political leaders like Walker, chair of the Linn County Board of Supervisors. Others were the work of people new to politics and organizing. But the messages delivered at all of them have echoed each other.

Demonstrations have been almost entirely peaceful. Though organizers do not endorse vandalism, downtown Iowa City walls, streets and signs have been tagged with messages of outrage. The most notable moment of violence happened on June 3, when a state trooper ordered flash-bang grenades and tear gas used against protesters in Iowa City trying to march to I-80.

“Protesting is not a box to check off to say that you have done something to make changes,” Taylor Scudder told hundreds of people rallying on the Ped Mall in Iowa City, a few hours before Walker spoke in Cedar Rapids. “It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough.”

She called for “hard conversations with children and adults about race and gender and sexuality.”

Scudder, a teacher, said she was nervous about speaking, but had to “because my black life matters, my family’s black lives matter, my students’ black lives matter.”

Humanize My Hoodie co-founder Andre Wright speaks during the Saturday, May 30 rally on the UI Pentacrest. — Jason Smith/Little Village
Hundreds gathered at the Pentacrest on May 30, 2020, to protest racism and killing of George Floyd. — Jason Smith/Little Village
Protesters on the Pentacrest, decrying racism and the killing of George Floyd, May 30, 2020 — Jason Smith/Little Village
Protesters march in Iowa City despite the rain, June 4, 2020 — courtesy Ofer Sivan
Two protesters walking down Dubuque Street following the march to I-80. — courtesy of Ofer Sivan
Protesters and Iowa State Troopers on Dubuque Street, June 4, 2020 — courtesy of Ofer Sivan
A member of the Iowa Freedom Riders addresses protesters gathered on the Pentacrest, June 8, 2020. — courtesy of Ofer Sivan
Protesters march on 1st Avenue in Coralville, Thursday, June 11, 2020. — Jason Smith/Little Village
A father and daughter walking together in the protest march in Cedar Rapids, June 13, 2020. — Paul Brennan/Little Village

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 283.

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