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Iowa City ratifies reconciliation commission with some pushback

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - The Iowa City City Council ratified the mission statement and charge for the new Truth and Reconciliation Commission at a Tuesday night meeting. Councilors had been wanting to get this done for over a month, after promising it in response to protester demands.

The commission has three charges: fact-finding, truth-telling and reconciliation. In past council meetings, it's been described as a place for people of color to share times they've felt discriminated against. Councilors also hope to make the teachings of this commission community-wide.

“We’ve taken careful consideration and tried to meet that balance of what is truly attainable and set the commission up for success," Laura Bergus said, one of two city councilors that drafted the commission's framework.

It will be a nine-member panel of Johnson County residents (who preferably live in Iowa City). The members will come from different groups like the local protest group the Iowa Freedom Riders, the South District Neighborhood Association and the Black Voices Project.

Bergus and councilor Janet Weiner spoke with groups like IFR when drafting the commission but the protesters were not satisfied Tuesday night.

“TRC resolution as it currently stands is creating a commission that will not truly, fully achieve the ambitious goals with respect to targeting the systemic racism that is entrenched," Raneem Hamad said Tuesday over Zoom, one of the organizers for IFR.

Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih, who has advocated for an immense amount of community input for the commission, sided with the protesters Tuesday.

Salih was the lone vote against the commission Tuesday, as it passed 6-1. Before voting, Salih said she felt "her voice didn't matter".

Read the full three-page framework of the commission below:

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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