Government

Iowa City to look to independent agency to review tear gas use against protester

Protestors march towards downtown Iowa City after marching from downtown onto Interstate 80 during a protest against rac
Protestors march towards downtown Iowa City after marching from downtown onto Interstate 80 during a protest against racial injustice in Iowa City on Thursday, June 4, 2020.

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Council called on the city to hire an independent firm to investigate the use of tear gas and flash bangs against protesters last month.

As part of their resolution responding to the demands of Black Lives Matter protesters, the City Council demanded by Aug. 1 a report on the use of tear gas and flash bangs on protesters during a June 3 demonstration.

City Manager Geoff Fruin said he had planned to seek assistance from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, which investigates use of deadly force by police officers. However, because the Iowa State Patrol was involved in the law enforcement response June 3, the DCI felt it would be inappropriate to be involved in the investigation of another state agency, Fruin told the council Tuesday night.

Fruin presented two alternatives to the council: Either he and the City Attorney’s Office could present the council with a timeline of events from the evening with no analysis, or the city could hire an independent firm to investigate the event and potentially make recommendations for changes to police department policies and training.

The council unanimously backed hiring an independent firm.

“The public is going to be looking for something independent,” City Council member Susan Mims said. “For the public, I don’t think something coming from the staff is going to be acceptable.”

Fruin said he did not have quotes on the cost of such a review or a timeline for the review to be completed. He did say it would be unrealistic to expect the review to be done by the original Aug. 1 deadline.

The firm that would do the review has not yet been identified.

Related to the city’s ongoing response to Black Lives Matter demands, Fruin said a website — icgov.org/BLM — has been launched to allow the public to track the city’s response. The website breaks down the 17 points in the City Council’s resolution, a progress summary and next steps for those items.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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