Black Lives Matter protesters again marched in downtown Des Moines on Sunday in what organizers called a Unity Rally to bring attention to LGBTQ perspectives on racism and police brutality.
Yazmine DeMornay transgender performer and activist, said stories of violence against Black transgender men and women are often overlooked. She named seven such people killed in recent years. DeMornay says, “There should never be another Tony McDade, a Nina Pop, Rae’Lynn Thomas, Ty Underwood, Bee Love Slater, Bailey Reeves, Muhlaysia Booker and countless others.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 26 transgender people were killed in the U.S. last year, most of them were black transgender women. Demonstrators in Cedar Rapids got a public pledge of support from a city council member during a march on Saturday. Protesters, led by the group Advocates for Social Justice, offered demands including decriminalizing low-level marijuana offenses and abolishing qualified immunity, which can shield government officials from personal liability.
After being questioned by an organizer, city council member Dale Todd told the crowd of hundreds that he supports the demands.
“If anybody tells you the Cedar Rapids City Council is not on board with these demands, send them to me, okay?,” Todd says. “We want to get this done. We need your help, but there is no opposition to getting this thing done.”
Todd paraphrased a famous black filmmaker in addressing the crowd. “As I said, using the words of Spike Lee, we want to make sure we get this thing right, because I don’t think we’re going to have another chance to do it,” Todd says. “Now is the time.” As Cedar Rapids’ only black city council member, Todd told the crowd there’s no one who wants to get rid of “bad cops” more than him.
(By Gerlock and Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)