Iowa Freedom Riders march to Iowa City mayor’s home, demand action from City Council

Protesters led by the Iowa Freedom Riders made their way across Iowa City to Mayor Bruce Teague’s home, calling for him and the City Council to take action to implement the organization’s demands.


Hannah Kinson

A protester addresses Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague on Friday, June 12 outside the mayor's house in Iowa City. Protesters walked together and gathered in the neighborhood to demand more action done from the mayor and city council.

Rylee Wilson, News Editor

Protesters led by the Iowa Freedom Riders made their way across Iowa City towards Mayor Bruce Teague’s house Friday evening, calling on Teague to implement the demands brought to the Iowa City City Council by the organization.

The protest began on the Pentacrest and made its way across the west side of Iowa City. The group arrived at Teague’s home on Denbigh Drive around 8 p.m.

Teague stood on the end of his driveway and remained mostly silent as organizers of the Iowa Freedom Riders spoke to him. He repeatedly told organizers, “I hear you.”

Representatives from the Iowa Freedom Riders brought a set of demands to the City Council at an emergency work session on Tuesday afternoon. The council plans to discuss these demands at its regularly scheduled meeting on June 16.

Organizers told Teague he was not acting fast enough to implement their demands.

“We have power. but not as much as you,” one organizer told Teague.

Police were not present for most of the protest on Friday, except for a brief encounter where protesters passed two University of Iowa police officers in front of Kinnick Stadium.

On Thursday, protesters were met with around 100 members of the Iowa State Patrol on First Avenue in Coralville.

Protest attendee Trevell Shupe was returned to protest for a second time on Friday evening.

He said while police presence can be scary, he is not concerned about protests escalating.

“Yesterday we were completely surrounded by the police so that was kind of scary, but it didn’t seem like they were going to do anything for the most part,” Shupe said. “After the last incident where they used teargas, they saw what the reaction was, and hopefully they won’t do anything like that again.”

Protests last weekend in Iowa City drew crowds organizers estimated at over 2500. Organizers acknowledged that crowds are beginning to drop off.

Around 200 protesters were present on Friday evening. Organizers told attendees to bring friends with them to the next protest, seeking to double attendance numbers.

Protester Michaela Davis said she has been at protests since they began two weeks ago, and she does not plan on stopping any time soon.

“This is not a fad. This isn’t going to blow over in a couple weeks,” Davis said. “I think there are going to be burnouts and some people are going to need to take breaks, but we just hope that they come back stronger and more prepared. I don’t think that this is something that is going to blow over, nor do I want it to.”

Here is what journalists for The Daily Iowan reported during events Friday evening.

10:00 p.m. – Protesters return to the Pentacrest. In response to the lower numbers of attendance tonight, organizers say they want to double their numbers tomorrow.

Organizers say they will knock on whatever door they need to until they are heard.

9:40 p.m. – Protesters head down Burlington Avenue towards downtown. The crowd stands at the intersection of Burlington and Riverside, where they stopped earlier in the night.

9:10 p.m. – Protesters leave Teague’s house and head back toward downtown. As the crowd passes Kinnick Stadium, the crowd yells “All cops are bastards” at University of Iowa police officers stationed outside. Organizers tell the crowd to keep moving and no interaction occurs between the two parties.

8:50 p.m. – Protesters are still outside Teague’s home. Several neighbors are outside watching.

Protesters are chanting, “all silence is violence.”

Organizers say they will be back tomorrow with more people.

Organizers chant “if we don’t get no justice, then y’all don’t get no sleep.”

Teague replies, “I won’t get sleep.”

8:20 p.m. – Protesters stop on Denbigh Street in front of Mayor Bruce Teague’s house. An organizer says “we are not here to commend you.”

Organizers say Teague is not pushing hard enough for their demands.

“We need you not just to discuss the demands, but to vote on the demands,” an organizer said.

Teague listens silently to organizers before saying, “I hear you” to the protesters.

Organizers called Teague “wishy-washy.” One said, “wherever the wind goes, Mayor Teague goes.”

7:55 p.m. – Protesters head up Benton Street through a residential neighborhood.

7:40 p.m. – Protesters stopped at the intersection of Benton Street and Riverside Drive. Several drivers honk in support as the circle blocked traffic. Organizers direct protesters to online petitions to sign and black artists to support.

One organizer tells drivers in cars “y’all have homework.”

7:20 p.m. – The group heads up Burlington Street towards Riverside Drive.

Protesters stop at the intersection of Burlington Street and Riverside Drive.

7:10 p.m. – The group begins to march down Clinton Street.

Protesters form a circle at the intersection of Clinton and Burlington Street, chanting “if we don’t get no justice, then y’all don’t get no sleep.”

6:45 p.m. – Organizers read a letter Mazin Mohamedali wrote from jail.

“This is a peaceful movement made by each and every one of us. We are all Iowa’s Freedom Riders,” he wrote. “Do not bow your heads in sadness at my absence, and know that I will be with you soon.”

6:30 p.m. – A crowd of around 200 gather on the Pentacrest. Organizers are saying the focus of the protest tonight will be the Iowa City City Council and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Organizers are asking for four “immediate, actionable steps” from the City Council, in addition to other demands of the group.

Earlier today, Reynolds signed a bipartisan police-reform bill that bans most chokeholds, prevents officers fired for misconduct from being rehired in another department in Iowa, and requires annual de-escalation and implicit bias training for all law enforcement officers in the state.

Organizers call the bill a baby step.

“We’re not here for the reformist policies that Gov. Kim Reynolds is pushing for,” an organizer says.

Rockne Cole, attorney for Mazin Mohamedali — an organizer who was arrested in connection with the protests — provides an update on the status of his case.

Cole says he believes the Johnson County Attorney is negotiating in good faith regarding Mohamedali’s case.

“Our primary goal, at this point, is to get Mazin home,” he says. “It is not easy for him to be there incarcerated, when he would much rather be here fighting with you.”

Mohamedali is currently being held in the Marshall county jail.

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