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Students and community members protest in response to racist social media posts

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) - The Black Lives Matter Chapter in Waterloo and the Black Student Union at Cedar Falls High School organized a protest and marched outside the school to bring attention to the racism that still exists in the community.

More than 100 students, district parents, and community members showed up Monday afternoon.

“We tried to make it as big as we possibly could so that everybody can know that we are not just going to sit idly by and just let it happen and keep happening," Black Student Union member Dinari Turner said.

This was in response to a racist social media post by a high school student spelling out the n-word onto a cake. However, according to those at the protest, this was not the only instance of racism within the Cedar Falls Community School District.

“If the school district handled them appropriately then we wouldn’t have to keep reliving, and keep reliving, and keep reliving this," Waterloo Black Lives Matter Chapter President Joyce Levingston said.

Disciplinary action was taken against the high school student who made the post. The district's board rules state that acts of racism, either verbal or written, will not be tolerated. Also stating that it does not matter whether a student is on or off-campus.

The district's board policies on freedom of expression can be found here, and the district's board policies on anti-bullying/harassment can be found here.

“We recognize the harm that this situation has caused and want all of our students, staff, and families to know that the district is taking steps to dismantle the racism that exists in our schools.”

“We know there is much to do and we are committed to providing each and every student with a safe, equitable, and inclusive learning environment. It will take all of us working together; students, staff, parents, and our community.”

Cedar Falls Community School District Statement

At the protest, community members and students shared experiences that they have had within the schools, hoping for change.

Some students explained they have been a part of the district for just a few days, or months, already experiencing discrimination within the halls. Others recalled dealing with the same issues during their time in the district decades ago.

“It’s very sad and unfortunate that these students are dealing with the same things that I dealt with when I went to Cedar Falls schools as well," Levingston said remembering attending Cedar falls schools more than 20 years ago.

A list of demands were given to the school district with hopes that the student's voices are heard.

The demands include serious and consistent disciplinary action when it comes to racism, providing support that is specifically catered to people of color, and simply listening to stories and experiences being shared.

"With this I think it was just like built up from everything happening, and needing to released, and wanting change, so we aren't just sitting there scared for our lives," Turner said.

The district does have a resource where racially motivated situations and acts can be reported. That resource can be found here.

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Diego Hernandez

Multimedia Journalist

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