Government

North Liberty condemns hate group flyers found over the weekend

Traffic passes the North Liberty Sign on Penn Street Wednesday July 13, 2005 near the Interstate 380 interchange. (Gazet
Traffic passes the North Liberty Sign on Penn Street Wednesday July 13, 2005 near the Interstate 380 interchange. (Gazette file photo)

NORTH LIBERTY — The city of North Liberty denounced racist flyers distributed over the weekend in town.

“The city of North Liberty condemns racism, condemns hate speech, and condemns attempts to intimidate members of our community,” the city said in a statement. The flyers were distributed by a known hate group, the city said.

City Council member Chris Hoffman said he was among a number of residents to receive a flyer, but doesn’t think he was targeted as an elected official. Hoffman said he was part of a “small sample of people that received this with no rhyme or reason.”

The flyer — which Hoffman described as similar to those distributed in Iowa City and other Iowa communities in recent years — appeared sometime between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday and was affixed to a copy of Little Village magazine. He said he notified police.

The Gazette also reported a similar incident Monday to Cedar Rapids police after hearing racist material was affixed to the Penny Saver free weekly publication without the company’s knowledge.

The flyers appear to have been wrapped around the free publications to add weight, then tossed on to lawns.

Hoffman said his understanding was that two streets in North Liberty were targeted. North Liberty Police Chief Diane Venenga said her department received only one report on the flyers.

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The death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer has spurred nationwide protests and conversations, including an event Thursday night in North Liberty.

Nick Bergus, North Liberty communications director, said it would be appropriate to call the event a protest, demonstration or conversation.

“All of those names are valid,” Bergus said. “It was a moment to highlight some of the lived experience of the people of color in our community and show support and hear about that.”

While the event was not put on by the city, city leaders spoke and Bergus said North Liberty is committed to having difficult conversations to spur change, as well as condemn hate speech.

“I think it’s really important that the city makes statements that are anti-racist and condemn those kind of things,” Bergus said.

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

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