Public Safety

Brawl instigated by outsiders, residents of SW Cedar Rapids apartment complex say

Neighbors called on city to help address violence

(Screenshot of video submitted to the Gazette.)
(Screenshot of video submitted to the Gazette.)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Neighbors and an apartment complex official on Wednesday said outsiders instigated a large fight that led to four arrests in a southwest quadrant neighborhood earlier this week in Cedar Rapids.

On Monday afternoon, a large fight with estimates of 20 to 50 people erupted at Cedar Valley Townhomes, 3000 J St. SW, spilling over from front porches to lawns to streets. Some of the mayhem was captured on cellphone and security video.

“From what we can see from our footage, a swarm of people came onto the property and a majority of the people involved were not our residents,” said Kim Gordon, director of Affordable Housing Network Inc., which owns and manages the property. “We are not sure how to address it when people coming onto the property are people that don’t live there.”

Issues at Cedar Valley Townhomes, which has 186 homes and approximately 400 people, came to light when several residents attended a Cedar Rapids City Council meeting on Tuesday, pleading for help to combat “youth violence” as well as questioning the response of police.

A previous fight occurred the night before, on Sunday, involving some of the same people, which residents described as a group of teens and young adults who don’t live at the complex entering the neighborhood looking for a fight.

Gordon said the organization has hired off-duty officers to help police the area for the next few days to hopefully defuse any further violence.

“There are really good residents out there,” Gordon said. “It’s their home, and they are frustrated when they know it’s not their kids, not their neighbors. It’s other people coming in and doing this. ... When others are coming in and (the residents) are put in the middle of it, it is hard for them to address and us to manage.”

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Ida Johnson, 59, who’s lived in Cedar Valley Townhomes for three years, expressed frustration that neighbors called 911 for help and those trying to defend themselves wound up arrested, including her grandson, instead of those instigating the fight. Two of the four arrested had the complex listed as their home address.

“You call for help, and the only ones they arrest are the ones being attacked,” Johnson said.

Police have announced a full review to determine if officers acted appropriately and plan to continue investigating to determine if more arrests are warranted.

“No additional arrests at this time, but it’s an active investigation and more arrests are likely,” said Greg Buelow, a public safety spokesman.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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