Iowa Freedom Riders visit City Councilor Pauline Taylor’s home

On their third night of visiting the homes of Iowa City city councilors before the City Council meets Tuesday, the Iowa Freedom Riders met with Pauline Taylor, who agreed to take “actionable steps” to meet the group’s demands.


Tate Hildyard

Iowa City citizens march through downtown as part of a protest on Sunday, June 14, 2020. Iowa City, along with several other major cities across the country, has been a center for protesting systemic racism and the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police.

Josie Fischels, Summer Editor

Protesters led by the Iowa Freedom Riders marched to a third Iowa City City Council member’s home Sunday night, seeking verbal commitment that each member will follow through on meeting their demands when the council reconvenes Tuesday. 

The group marched to Mayor Bruce Teague and City Councilor John Thomas’ homes in previous nights, and said it plans to visit another councilor Monday night before the council’s meeting. 

The crowd of around 200 arrived at City Councilor Pauline Taylor’s house around 8:30 p.m. Taylor was outside waiting and waved to the crowd as they arrived. Four members of the Iowa Freedom Riders used a speaker to amplify their voices and facilitated a tense conversation between the councilor and the crowd.

Iowa City Councilor Pauline Taylor addresses outside her home on Sunday, June 14, 2020. The Iowa City City Council will meet on Tuesday to continue discussing how to approach the set of demands given to them by the Iowa Freedom Riders. (Tate Hildyard)

Although Taylor verbally committed to taking “actionable steps” to meet the Iowa Freedom Riders’ demands, many protesters and organizers met the council member with strong verbal opposition when she appeared unaware of the meaning and reasoning surrounding some of the group’s demands. 

Leaders of the Iowa Freedom Riders spoke to Taylor about defunding the police, systemic racism within various institutions including law enforcement, and the importance of including improved education of Black history in schools. 

Taylor expressed opposition against the “All cops are bastards” chant the leaders of the Iowa Freedom Riders had used when she marched with them last. 

“This does not negate that individual cops are not capable of good, rather it highlights that the system is corrupt and beyond reform,” one organizer responded.

Taylor said she had long admired the strength and enthusiasm of the protestors, especially because the group has refrained from spray painting for several nights — which she opposed.

“There’s [peaceful] protesting, and then there’s the spray painting,” she said. 

The crowd responded, stating protests have been consistently non-violent over the course of demonstrations that have taken place in Iowa City. 

The Iowa Freedom Riders plan to meet again at 6 p.m. Monday to visit the home of another city councilor. 

The group stated it will once again take a short break from protests from Tuesday to Thursday to allow city councilors time to review its demands, then protest on Friday and hold a family-friendly Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, which will include marching and live music on the Pentacrest. 

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

10:30 p.m. – The crowd disbands. 

10:20 p.m. – The crowd returns to the Pentacrest. One leader spoke about the education necessary for each city councilor to take in order to understand their demands.

9:50 p.m. – Some protesters use their phone lights to guide their way as they head down Grand Avenue.

9:40 p.m. – the crowd regroups on Melrose Avenue, stating that a police officer is trailing them. A police vehicle is following the crowd at a distance.

“No Freedom Rider left behind,” one protester says.

9:10 p.m. – The crowd leaves Taylor’s home, chanting “If we don’t get no justice, then y’all don’t get no sleep” as they head down Westgate Street.

8:30 p.m. – The crowd arrives at 1917 Graslon Dr., City Councilor Pauline Taylor’s house. Leaders ask Taylor about their demands and her commitment to them. The crowd became frustrated when Taylor could not immediately name their demands and expressed opposition against their “All cops are bastards” chant.

8:20 p.m. – The crowd continues down Benton Street, chanting “I’m Black and I’m proud” while white allies reply, “I’m here and it’s now.”

7:50 p.m. – The crowd heads south down Riverside Drive, shouting “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Ain’t no power like the power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop.”

The crowd shouts, “White silence is violence” at a group of people outside the Dairy Queen on Riverside and two people join the protest.

7:10 p.m. – One organizer shares the story of a Black transgender woman who was shot down by police and misrepresented while seeking justice, stressing, “all Black lives matter” while discussing Black trans lives.

“This is something important, not just because I am a transgender Black person but because they’re human beings and they do not deserve that and they deserve justice in every form.”

The Iowa Freedom Riders announced that they will hold a family-friendly Juneteenth celebration on Saturday at the Pentacrest. One organizer emphasized understanding the meaning and significance of the holiday before attending.

“You can’t be out here partying if you don’t know what you’re partying for,” she said.

7:00 p.m. – Organizers announce that they will march to another city councilor’s home tonight. One member hands out a “know your rights” pamphlet to the crowd of around 200 on the Pentacrest with information about what to do if anyone gets pulled over by a police officer.