IFR organizers encourage protesters to demand action from officials at third night of protests

The Iowa Freedom Riders led the third consecutive protest leading up to Tuesday’s City Council meeting on Sunday night. In addition to advocating for local government action, the group also continues to fight for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, former UI student Makeda Scott, and Jacob Blake.


Katie Goodale

Protesters march back to the Old Capitol Building during a Black Lives Matter protest organized by the Iowa Freedom Riders on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. This was the third protest of a four day protest streak in which protesters took to the street to put pressure on the City Council. These protests lead up to a Tuesday meeting during which three of their demands will be discussed.

Josie Fischels and Claire Benson

Part of a four-night protest streak to apply pressure to local government officials, Iowa City protesters marched for the third consecutive night ahead of Tuesday’s city council meeting. 

Protesters have gathered for the past three nights to apply pressure on the council, as well as to march for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, former UI student Makeda Scott, and Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin and remains paralyzed from the injury.

As a small crowd of people began to arrive on the Pentacrest ahead of the night’s protest, four Iowa City police officers arrested Luke Beckner, 18, who was charged with criminal mischief of the 2nd degree. At the start of the protest, IFR organizer Raneem Hamad told the crowd that police were identifying and arresting protesters using video footage. 

Hamad later said Beckner is the third protester to be arrested by Iowa City police over the course of this week.

“They’re picking us off one-by-one,” she said. 

Ten Iowa City police officers lined the front of the Old Capitol building as protesters gathered in the wake of a memorial to 21-year-old Makeda Scott, a recent UI graduate who died while boating with a coworker at Lake MacBride. During previous protests, the IFR has called for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to further investigate Scott’s death. 

Protesters left the Pentacrest to march through downtown Iowa City, weaving through the streets as they made their way south toward Highway 6 before turning to head back to the Pentacrest. Protesters shielded one another with umbrellas, homemade posters, and outstretched arms as downtown businesses, apartments, and streets were tagged with spray paint along the way. 

The march made stops at the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, where members of IFR called for protesters to call City Attorney Janet Lyness to demand all charges against Iowa City protesters arrested by police be dropped. Lyness is prosecuting all but three of the charges presented to the city council within the time frame of the nightly protests in June. 

“If they care about what we’ve been doing this whole summer, they will drop these charges,” Hamad told the crowd.

Protesters have been urged by members of the Iowa Freedom Riders to attend Tuesday’s city council meeting in order to demand the release of a video that Mayor Bruce Teague and Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih say shows footage of the Iowa State Patrol making the call to use tear gas on protesters on June 3.

IFR has also offered amendments to the council’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which Hamad said on Aug. 29 the group would not proceed with unless the amendments were added. 

The council will also consider buying tasers for the police department at the meeting, a purchase that would cost the department $230,000 over five years. 

“Funding for housing, not the police,” protesters chanted Sunday night. “Funding for children, not the police, funding for health care, not the police, funding for schools, not the police, funding for the community, not the police.”

Organizers called for large numbers of people at their fourth protest to create a final push to pressure city council. The protest will begin at 7 p.m. on the Pentacrest.