116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa City’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has selected Amel Ali to lead the commission after Mohamed Traore stepped down as chairman.
Ali, who was the commission’s vice chair, was unanimously elected to the leadership role at a Thursday evening meeting. Chastity Dillard was elected vice chair.
Traore will remain a member of the commission.
Traore became chairman of the ad hoc commission in March 2021 after the previous chair, Royceann Porter, resigned and vice chairwoman T’Shailyn Harrington was voted out as chair following Porter.
In early 2021, the commission saw several resignations from commission members and the group’s facilitator. The resignations prompted the city council to temporarily suspend the group for four weeks in order to fill the vacancies.
The Iowa City Council created the nine-member commission in 2020 in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
The commission’s mission is to gather testimony about racial injustices, foster ways for people to share their stories and encourage direct conversations in the community.
The TRC has been working for months to hire a facilitator to help carry out its mission and is reworking its facilitator proposal for another time. Commissioners heard an updated presentation Thursday but did not take a vote.
Ali said she would like to set up a presentation with the Iowa City Council to get feedback from council members before the commission votes on the proposal.
“I really don’t want to be in a situation where we get denied again by council,” Ali said.
The commission updated its facilitator proposal in May to include more community input and local partners. The updated proposal cost nearly three times as much as the original. The TRC voted 6-0 to approve it May 5, and it was expected to head to the city council for consideration.
But on May 17, during the city council’s public comment, local partners shared they had paused the proposal due to concerns about the high cost.
The third version of the proposal, which was presented as a draft Thursday night, includes the same groups as the second proposal but with a shorter timeline and a lower cost. The seven month, two-phase process is estimated to cost $388,875.
Think Peace will lead the truth-telling team, with Kearns & West leading the fact-finding team. The Healing Partners — Banjo Knits Empowerment, Astig Planning and Mediation Services of Eastern Iowa — will assist with reconciliation. Three Native partners also are involved.
There is a focus on community involvement and building relationships through the truth and reconciliation process.
The first phase would last three months and focus on:
- Education of different truth and reconciliation processes.
- Defining fact-finding categories and for which to collect data locally.
- Strategic session to focus the work for the second phase.
After the first phase, a presentation will be made to the city council and progress evaluated.
The second phase would last four months. Truth-telling and fact finding would be a significant focus, and there is potential for overlap between the two phases.
Following the conclusion of the second phase, there would be a presentation to council, progress evaluation and final recommendations.
The commission is charged with issuing a report to the city council by June 2023, with recommendations for changes and to advise whether the commission should continue or be disbanded.
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