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Both of Iowa City’s “TRCs” meet Thursday, with shared goals but different origins

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Two commissions formed to give persecuted people a healing space met Thursday in Iowa City. Both want to educate the community and provide reparations. Yet, one was formed as a protest against the other.

"The focus shouldn't be 'us against them', it should be for the people," Ala Mohamed said, a founder of "The People's TRC".

The Iowa City City Council voted to suspend the Ad Hoc Truth and Reconciliation Commission on March 17, because of four resignations and reports of infighting.

This led to a fifth resignation from Commissioner Raneem Hamad, who felt this was an inexcusable silencing of the commission because the council felt threatened.

"It's proven itself to be a process and a space for City Council and led by City Council," Hamad said Thursday.

Days later, Hamad and the Iowa Freedom Riders announced the formation of The People's Truth and Reckoning Commission.

About 75 people came to the Chauncey Swan Park Thursday to hear about the new group and its plans.

At the same time, the city's TRC was coming back from its one-month suspension in a virtual meeting. It was a joint meeting with Council to discuss rules and regulations, and the commission's future.

"I'm looking for them to show that they really do trust us," Chair Mohamed Traore said.

Traore spoke adamantly at the Council meeting on March 17, asking them not to suspend their TRC.

"I was very disappointed at first and I tried to advise against it," Traore said.

While he still questions the decision, he says the pause did give him and the other commissioners a chance to reflect. During the virtual meeting, Mayor Bruce Teague said he does trust the TRC to come up with its own by-laws.

At the Chauncey Swan, Hamad and Ala Mohamed said there would be no connection between their group and the city-ran TRC.

But Traore doesn't think that has to be the case. He said he would have attended Thursday's outdoor meeting if the timings didn't conflict and he plans on going to their next scheduled meeting.

He pointed out that protests led by the Iowa Freedom Riders in the summer of 2020 is what led to the founding of the city's TRC in the first place.

"It was through IFR's direct actions that really helped to get our commission started. I really feel that it is imperative that we do take them seriously," Traore said.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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