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Protesters March To Home Of Cedar Rapids Mayor

Local Black Lives Matter activists marched to the home of the Cedar Rapids mayor on Friday. It’s a tactic that protesters in Iowa City and Des Moines have also taken as they’ve successfully pushed for local policy commitments and changes.

About 200 protesters led by the group Advocates for Social Justice marched and chanted their way through southeast Cedar Rapids Friday afternoon, from Monroe Park to the home of Mayor Brad Hart.

The crowd included students, young parents and retirees. Some families walked with children in strollers or small wagons. Some neighbors raised their fists in support from their front porches; others handed out cold drinks as the crowd marched by on what was a steamy July afternoon.

As they marched, the group carried a large Black Lives Matter banner, on which protesters had penned personalized messages and demands. When they arrived at Hart's home at the end of a cul-de-sac in a suburban neighborhood, they laid the banner out on his lawn.

Organizers encouraged protesters to chalk more messages on the sidewalk, street and driveway in front of Hart's home. 

"Brad Hart, have a heart! Let Black leaders do their part!" the group chanted in front of his home.

When organizers Tamara Marcus, Leslie Neely and Nicole LeGrand knocked on his door, no one answered. Hart told a reporter with The Gazette on Thursday that he knew the group planned to visit his home. 

Neely told the crowd she took Hart's lack of appearance on Friday as a snub. 

"This is why it's important to vote, because as you can see, the leader of this city avoided all of us! He did not...he left so he did not have to deal with all of us. So please register to vote!" Neely told them.

"Vote him out! Vote him out!" the group chanted in front of Hart's house.

The Cedar Rapids City Council has passed a resolution in support of the group’s demands, but advocates are pushing the council to act more quickly, especially in establishing a police review board.

City officials announced earlier this week they'll be seeking more public comment before formally organizing the body, a process which Hart says he expects can be accomplished within 90 days.

"The Citizen Review Board will impact the entire community. We want to be sure it is developed with input from the Black Lives Matter movement, Advocates for Social Justice members, as well as our entire community,” Hart said in a written statement. “Cedar Rapids City Council is listening to residents’ calls for change, recognizes that the time for action is now, is responding and will keep working with the community to combat systemic racism.”

The city plans to collect more input on the board through resident surveys, focus groups, community meetings and online feedback forms.