WATERLOO — Black Lives Matter marchers returned to the streets of downtown Waterloo on Tuesday night to renew the focus on racial justice and encourage voting.
“This fight is never over. It wasn’t over when Martin Luther King marched. It wasn’t over when Malcolm X marched. It wasn’t over when Barack Obama came into office,” organizer Aquonn Williams said Tuesday night, months after nationwide marches and protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
About 70 people rallied in Lincoln Park and then marched past the building that houses Waterloo’s City Hall and police station chanting “no justice, no peace” and the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Derrick Ambrose and others who lost their lives to police.
After passing through a nearby neighborhood, the group stopped at the absentee ballot drop box in front of the Black Hawk County Courthouse. There, organizers pleaded with marchers to vote in the upcoming election.
Marching once isn’t getting the job done, Williams said.
“Getting the job done is one thing,” he said tapping on the ballot box. “This is getting the job done right here. If you don’t do anything on Nov. 3, if your vote isn’t in here, your voice doesn’t matter because you didn’t do anything to help the situation.”
City officials also stepped up to the microphone to highlight progress in the relationship between residents and the police force in the months since Floyd died as a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Mayor Quentin Hart noted the Waterloo Police Department put in place a number of policies and changed use-of-force guidelines over the summer.
“Hold us accountable, but also understand that the blue here in the city of Waterloo have your back, and we are going to work every day to prove to you that we are the type of organization you can be proud of,” Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said.
PHOTOS: Black Lives Matter rally Oct. 13, 2020