116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - After condemning the Iowa City Council last week for its plans to temporarily suspend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Raneem Hamad has resigned from the commission.
Hamad was the lone representative of the Iowa Freedom Riders - a group that represented the interests of the Black Lives Matter movement locally and called for the creation of the commission.
'There is no longer any IFR representation or participation with the TRC, and the council can breathe a sigh of relief,” Hamad wrote in her March 25 letter of resignation.
The nine-member commission was formed by the council last year to hear evidence of discrimination and racial injustice and provide opportunities for those impacted to share their stories and express their truths through art, theater and other avenues.
Hamad joins Anthony Currin, Royceann Porter and T'Shailyn Harrington as members who have departed the commission after months of dysfunction, which came to a head during a March 4 meeting in which Porter resigned as commission chair ahead of a vote of no confidence and Harrington was voted out of her leadership role.
Jesse Case, who had been hired as the group's facilitator, also resigned after that meeting.
The city council on March 16 voted to suspend the commission until April 15.
The council said it would use that time to fill openings on the commission. A joint meeting between the council and the commission is expected to take place April 15. The decision came after nearly two hours of public comment - largely opposed to the suspension, including strong comments from Hamad.
'Council can do what it will, but the facts are plain for everyone in our community to see: You continue your charade as you add green checkmarks to your performative racial justice checklist,” Hamad said. 'Yet every single one of you is complicit in perpetuating the white supremacist nature of the city government.”
Hamad continued to criticize the council in her resignation letter.
'The sad but unavoidable fact is that the TRC is limited to telling truths that the council wants to hear,” she wrote. 'These are not the truths I and others from IFR wanted to focus on when we originally demanded a TRC in June 2020. ...
'We wanted to focus on precisely those voices and truths that the council desperately does NOT want to hear. Truths that the council continues to ignore, sideline, shut out, gaslight and delegitimize in countless ways.”
Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague, in his comments before voting to suspend the commission, specifically addressed the Iowa Freedom Riders and tactics he described as 'not acceptable.” Teague also alleged that Iowa Freedom Riders views the commission 'as a place for their policies to be expressed.”
The city will accept applications for new commission members until March 30 and appoint the three new members during its April 6 meeting.
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