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David Drustrup: “It’s been an incredibly successful movement.”

October 19, 2021

David Drustrup, a police abolition activist, called what happened to Floyd “another chapter of the same book.” He said he distinctly remembers hearing protesters marching past his apartment and on a whim, he decided to join them.

Over a year later, he remains one of the Iowa Freedom Riders’ original members and remembers what it was like to march before the group was officially established.

“Those days were exciting, because you don’t feel alone anymore,” Drustrup said. “You feel like there are other people are upset about this for the right reasons, and other people who want to do something about it.”

He said he was put into a unique and beneficial situation by working with Hamad and Mohamed.

Before the protests and joining the Iowa Freedom Riders, he knew about class and race and the way they are intertwined, but the organization introduced him to more radical ideologies.

What makes the Iowa Freedom Riders different from other activist groups is that it is organized as a sociocracy, an idea Drustrip said Mohamed presented which means all leadership is horizontal.

“From an abolitionist perspective, activism and organizing is for everyone,” he said. “Folks who volunteer a little bit of their time here and there are activists, folks who try do something particular with their work or their school towards racial and social justice, that can be considered activism, as well.”

Two “Black Live Matter Black Out Protest” participants hold up a banner with “black lives matter” written on it in downtown Iowa City, Iowa on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. After marching down Burlington St, the group of protesters marched onto the pedestrian mall before marching to the Old Capitol building on the University of Iowa campus. (Ryan Adams)

When speaking up about injustices, Drustrup said he believes marginalized voices are ignored because they will enact the most change if their voices are centered. He said historical systems like slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation would have come to an end more quickly if people of color were given a platform to speak.

“That’s why it’s so important for IFR and other radical groups to maintain the intersections of marginalization at the center of our groups and have those voices be the most important,” he said.

Like Hamad and Mohamed, Drustrup said measuring success over the last year shifted from changing the structure of local government to making community connections with other like-minded activists.

He said many individuals came up to the Iowa Freedom Riders organizers telling them that they had never felt more powerful or more heard in their life than during summer 2020.

“People who were never involved in organizer activism at all, are they now feeling like they have a home? Are they feeling like they are seen in a city … that usually does not care for them, because they are queer, or Black or brown, or an immigrant,” he said. “So as long as those things are happening … even if it were to end tomorrow, its been an incredibly successful movement.”

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