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Faith Leaders, Law Enforcement, Community Unite In Prayer In Sioux City

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Katie Peikes
/
IPR
"We have people in authority that is willing to sit down with us and have a conversation, a real conversation," said Ike Rayford with the NAACP Sioux City chapter during a prayer event outside of the Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center.

People gathered outside of the Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center in downtown Sioux City Thursday to unite in prayer and song and spread messages of peace and togetherness as demonstrations across the country to recognize the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police have turned violent.
“Unity in Prayer," organized by law enforcement in Sioux City and Woodbury County, Unity in the Community and NAACP, sought to bring people of diverse backgrounds and faith together. They prayed and sang songs like "Lean on Me" and "Amazing Grace." Terry Medina, a probation officer for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and a member of the Santee Sioux Nation lit sage. The practice represents carrying peoples’ thoughts in smoke up to heaven.

“And creator God here, from this day on we’re going to try to unite in unity, fellowship, brotherhood, sisterhood, like that, the fatherhood and the motherhood are sacred, teaching our children good ways, creator God,” Medina prayed. 

Protests in Sioux City over the last few days have been nonviolent for the most part. During one night of protests that began Sunday and carried into 3 a.m. Monday, crowd members threw rocks and other objects at police officers, their vehicles and the police station. The events resulted in more than a dozen arrests, which is far fewer than other Iowa cities where people have been protesting. 

As a faith leader, what I'm calling for is for my other brothers and sisters of the faith, of other races, to start calling and speaking on the injustice that plagues our country. -Pastor Jeremy Robertson

Ike Rayford, the president of the NAACP’s Sioux City chapter, said he is thankful to live in Sioux City, where he said the police chief, city officials and council members have been willing to sit down and have conversations with him over the last few days.

“Sioux City, I want you to know that you do live in a great community,” Rayford said. “…We live in a bubble. We really do. Because we don’t have the things that are going on everywhere. We understand we’re not perfect, we get that, but we have people in authority that is willing to sit down with us and have a conversation, a real conversation.”

Pastor Jeremy Robertson from Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church echoed Rayford on how grateful he is for the strong relationship between the community and local law enforcement. He cited passages from the Bible and said that “all law enforcement are not bad," applauding local law enforcement including Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller and Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew.

“But as a faith leader,” Robertson said, “as a faith leader, what I’m calling for is for my other brothers and sisters of the faith, of other races, to start calling and speaking on the injustice that plagues our country. Amen.” 

We are not perfect. But we're trying real hard. And you will have my pledge and the officers' pledge that we will never give up reaching out, that we will never give up continuing to try better, continuing to be better. -Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller

Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller, who pledged his support for the protests, said the prayer service is the “beginning of healing” for the community.

“There’s a saying that says ‘the police are the community and the community are the police’,” Mueller said. “And what that means is these officers are your neighbors, they’re your friends, we’re in this struggle together.”

Mueller continued, “And I’m not going to say that we’re perfect. We are not perfect. But we’re trying real hard. And you will have my pledge and the officers’ pledge that we will never give up reaching out, that we will never give up continuing to try better, continuing to be better.”