Like so many across the nation, we were outraged by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. We felt it was time to make an unprecedented statement addressing this human rights violation.

The killing of George Floyd resonates within our community, illuminating the failure to address underlying economic and social forces perpetuating systemic racism throughout our nation. Because of these failures, many names have become headlines: Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, among so many other BIPOC. Living While Black should not be a death sentence.

Systemic racism and centuries of oppression of people of color, especially of African Americans, represent ongoing human rights crises. This is embedded into many areas of our community, including but not limited to law enforcement, criminal justice, housing, employment, education, healthcare and childcare. We recognize that these interrelated factors make solutions complex. Though the issues are systemic, solutions must be specific, focused on individual and policy-level changes, involving broad participation to be successful.

As a commission, we pledge the following commitments to you

•    We state unequivocally Black Lives Matter.
•    We will increase our efforts to highlight the work being done by the City of Iowa City Office of Equity and Human Rights to educate and engage the community on human rights issues.
•    We will spread awareness of resources and activities in the community through the Social Justice and Racial Equity Quarterly Report found here.
•    We will continue to be active representatives of this community and in working with the Iowa City City Council, further dialogue and advocate for action for human rights issues, including addressing the Iowa City Freedom Riders’ demands.
•    We will listen to and help amplify community voices on matters of human rights. Community residents are always encouraged to contact a member of the Human Rights Commission or City staff if they have questions or concerns.
•    We will engage in active dialogues with local officials and City staff members, including law enforcement, that allow them to make informed decisions regarding equitable and just policies and practices upholding human rights and holding human rights violators accountable.
•    We further offer our assistance in bridging the gap and fostering an open dialogue between law enforcement and those participating in non-violent protests. We want to aid in promoting trust between these groups to assure safety for all and protection of the Constitutional Rights of free speech and freedom of assembly.
•    We commit to building a more robust Human Rights Commission Strategic Plan starting in July to assure that our priorities align with the goals above and in light of the heightened awareness in our community to issues of race within systems and policies.

The goal of these commitments is to help us stay true to our duties and to more actively spur us to be a part of the solution in dismantling systems of oppression by starting with small acts of our own today.

This commission looks forward to building on our strengths and addressing critical areas that must be improved in our community. We hope that the passion of the last few weeks is indicative of the will to truly find solutions to these issues, which will undoubtedly take a sustained, long-term effort involving all community members. We must assure that this is not a fleeting moment, but a pivotal one that leads to lasting change.

To learn more about the City of Iowa City Human Rights Commission visit this link. 

In solidarity,

City of Iowa City Human Rights Commission
 

Date of publication

Monday, June 22, 2020

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