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Iowa City leaders suspend Truth and Reconciliation Commission for one month

Mayor Teague Zoom
Mayor Teague addressing council and the public Tuesday night

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Iowa City City Councilors voted to suspend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for a little less than one month early Wednesday morning, until April 15.

Mayor Bruce Teague proposed the measure because of four resignations from the commission over the last two weeks, and reports of infighting and stagnation within the commission.

"We had three individuals on the TRC --that are members of the BIPOC community-- resign; that sends a signal that should be concerning to all of us," Teague said Tuesday night.

Councilors said they are still very much in favor of the commission's purpose; to investigate claims of racism in the community and foster tough conversations about cultural divides. The majority felt making it only a one-month suspension would show their intentions.

They agreed the commission could resume after filling its vacancies and having an organizational meeting with city council on April 15.

The amended resolution passed 5-2 with Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih and Councilor Janice Weiner voting against it.

Before the vote, roughly 50 community members called into the virtual meeting to speak about the commission. The comment period lasted over 1.5 hours.

One person who asked city leaders not to suspend the TRC was its current chairperson Mohamed Traore. Traore said the commission had moved past its drama, was ready to move on and didn't need a suspension.

"Every second you spend bickering about what we have or haven't accomplished is wasted energy if you fail to truly offer your assistance to help us succeed," Traore said.

While councilor Salih agreed with him, the majority did not and the commission was suspended.

During the break, the council plans to fill the commission's three vacancies (one of the vacancies was for a "facilitator" which doesn't necessarily need to be filled). The council set a deadline for Tuesday March 30 at 5 p.m. for applications to be due and plans to appoint new members during the April 6 council meeting.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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