Rally backs Ferguson protests


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The biting cold didn’t keep University of Iowa students, faculty, and community members from staging a protest on Monday in memory of Michael Brown and in support of the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

As part of a nationwide “Hands Up Walk Out” effort led by the Ferguson Action Committee for Racial Justice, the crowd of approximately 50 gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Pentacrest at 12:01 p.m.

They remained silent for four minutes, symbolizing the four and a half hours that Michael Brown’s lifeless body lay in the street untouched.

UI senior Reggie Ross, the organizer of the local protest, spoke to the crowd of people standing in a semicircle around him on the sidewalk at the intersection of Clinton Street and Iowa Avenue.

“We have a lot of issues in this country, and we don’t choose to name them,” he said.

Following the rally at the Pentacrest, the group traveled down Washington Street to the City Hall and Police Station to make their demands known on the front steps of the building.

Specifically, the group called for $100,000 to be allocated to the city so that the police could receive yearly sensitivity training.

On Monday, President Obama announced he would sign an executive order and then request from Congress $263 million over the next three years to address issues of policing across the nation, including $75 million going toward the Body Worn Camera Partnership Program.

The program would provide for 50 percent of the costs of 50,000 body cameras and storage over the next three years for police departments and agencies around the country.

“I think it shows that the president is listening to people and that they want some type of change,” Ross said.

The Iowa City City Council recently rescinded its proposal to provide funding for the purchase of body cameras to allow the Iowa City police to explore other, potentially cheaper, options.

In between the chants from the group for action and peace, Ross talked about the killing of Michael Brown, the protesters in Ferguson, and the lingering problems of race still troubling the minds of many Americans.

Ross read a list of names of African-Americans killed by police officers, and after each name was read aloud, the crowd repeated it, so that it echoed through the Pentacrest lawn.

“I don’t really know what to think; I feel like more conversations need to be had,” Ross said.

Latisha McDaniel, a research assistant at the UI Carver College of Medicine who attended a protest on Nov. 25, said she wanted to come again Monday to support the students.

“There are a lot of young African-American kids who go to school here, and I’ve heard that they’ve had issues with the police,” McDaniel said.

Army veteran and Iowa City resident Keegan O’Malley said he’s seen problems for a long time with the Iowa City police.

“I see a rampant problem in my community,” O’Malley said. “I see a police force that’s run on the prejudices that we should’ve given up hundreds of years ago.”

O’Malley was also there to inform people that donations of winter clothes would be taken at the Iowa City Public Library on Monday night to be sent along with people traveling to Ferguson.

“I want to pay remembrance to the family of Mike Brown; I want to pay my respect,” he said.

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