WATERLOO — After only hours on the job, Waterloo’s new police chief engaged in debate with a crowd at Lincoln Park on Monday night.
“This is a great example of a listening session,” Chief Joel Fitzgerald said while fielding questions at a gathering spurred by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota on Memorial Day.
During sometimes heated exchanges, people asked about racial disparity in arrests, including rioting charges in a College Hill disturbance in Cedar Falls last year. Others demanded the department abandon its red griffin logo, a symbol some believe is racist.
While some in the crowd took Fitzgerald to task over past problems with the department, others pleaded that people give the law enforcement leader a chance.
The gathering was briefly disrupted when a pickup truck sped past the park displaying an American flag and a white supremacist flag. Officers stopped it a few block away.
Elsewhere, parts of the city were on edge Monday night following a string of fires.
A table umbrella outside Newton’s Paradise Café, only blocks from the park, was ignited and burned onto the table before it was extinguished by patrol officers.
Molotov cocktails in Corona beer bottles were tossed at the Dollar General Store on West Fifth Street and launched into the roadway on Broadway Street, according to officials at Waterloo Fire Rescue. No actual damage was reported from the fire bombs.