Thousands gathered around downtown Iowa City Saturday to share personal stories and march during a peaceful daytime protest against racial injustice.
According to Facebook, the demonstration was organized by Iowa City community member Dillon Gusta and was meant to take a stand against police brutality. By Saturday morning, over 3 thousand people had marked themselves as “Interested” or “Going.”
“I was the organizer but I use that term very loosely,” Gusta said in an interview with The Daily Iowan after the event. “I was the guy that clicked a few buttons on Facebook and made a few calls. I did not lead this movement, this movement was led by the black members of our community and I merely facilitated and amplified their voices in support of them.”
Following the death of George Floyd, Gusta said he realized his obligation to advocate for racial justice.
“…with my platform as a white male, if I don’t contribute, if I don’t do something, I am no better than the officers who are perpetuating racism,” Gusta said.
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The demonstration began around 11 a.m. in the Pedestrian Mall and featured speakers from the Iowa City community, including business owners and teachers.
Around 12:25 p.m. protest leaders began to lead thousands of people in a march that went through the Ped Mall, down Burlington St., past the Johnson County Jail, and back up through downtown to the original spot outside the Graduate Hotel at around 1 p.m.
Although some participants dispersed following the march, the demonstration continued with an invitation for participants to sign up to share their stories. While the march was scheduled to go until 1 p.m., leaders said they weren’t going to leave until each voice on the list was heard.
More community members and students continued to share their stories until about 2 p.m and the protest wrapped up with a moment of silence that lasted eight minutes and 46 seconds — the same amount of time George Floyd was held under Derek Chauvin’s knee by his neck before his death in Minneapolis.
Around 2:30 p.m. the crowd dispersed and were encouraged to continue attending all events dedicated to the cause.