MUSCATINE, Iowa–As people across the nation organized protests following the death of George Floyd, Muscatine residents organized several evenings of peaceful protests at the corner of Mulberry and Fifth Avenue. Monique Wooten, who attended the protests, said they sprung up naturally, after Anthony and Cathy Thompson stood gathered there with signs. “There were just two of them at first,” she remembers. Seeing that the Thompsons wanted a peaceful demonstration, Wooten joined them. “I felt like people needed to hear our voices,” Wooten said. “For us, I really believe that our message was that it can be done peacefully and to spread a message of peace and justice.”
As more people learned of the peaceful protest, they joined in, with Wooten reporting gatherings of up to 40 people each evening. As the protests went on, many people showed their support by dropping off food and drinks for everyone involved. One resident provided popsicles, while Muscatine police officers Whitni Pena and Angela Shoultz donated bottled water. Members of the Muscatine Sheriff’s Department and many churches also came to show their support.
For all who attended, the demonstrations provided a powerful experience. “I was glad to be a part of it,” shared Wooten.”
“This protest wasn’t what you see on TV,” added Salvation Army Lieutenant Greg Bock: “It was peaceful and constructive. You had black men and women speaking their truth with people who will never understand what it is to walk a mile in their shoes or live a second in their skin. They were able to share their experiences with me! It was one giant leap for racial reconciliation in Muscatine.”
“I was proud to be part of this as a supporter and to be able to use my connection to the people of Muscatine to provide amplification to the voices of those wanting to be heard, added Muscatine City Councilman Kelcey Brackett: “I want to specifically thank some of the organizers who made this possible and who set the tone for a peaceful event that shows what Muscatine can do. Thank you, Cathy and Anthony Thompson, Monique Wooten, Branden Benson, and all those who helped make this happen.”
Even for those who could not stay for long, the peaceful protests had a profound affect. Jen Metcalf, who attended the protest on June 1 recalled a retired marine who drove by and said, “this was exactly why I fought for this country–thank you.”