MT. PLEASANT — Members of the Mt. Pleasant community honored George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others who recently lost their lives due to police violence with a prayer vigil on Tuesday afternoon.
Organized by Iowa Wesleyan University, members of both the campus and the greater community gathered at the school’s flagpoles for prayers and reflection led by Pastor David Bracht-Wagner from the First United Methodist Church Mt. Pleasant and Parnell Davis, Executive Director of Youth for Christ.
In his remarks, Bracht-Wagner called for unity in the face of racism and injustice.
“As Christians we need to be one … When one part of our body is hurting, we all hurt and right now across our nation, there is a loud outcry of sorrow and pain, of injustice that has gone on way too long,” Bracht-Wagner said.
The pastor also spoke of the campus’ diversity, saying it “is one of the most diverse campuses in the state of Iowa” and should therefore work to set an example for the rest of the world.
“You are one of us — we are family. When you hurt, I hurt and when you find joy, we all celebrate. But when you mourn, we all mourn,” he added.
Following Bracht-Wagner, Davis relayed his own experiences with racism.
“Racism is nothing new to me. I grew up in small town Iowa — I love small town Iowa, this is my home. But I grew up in a time when it wasn’t popular to be biracial in the early and mid-80s,” he explained.
Davis said his family moved to Mt. Pleasant in 1991 following incidents which included break-ins to their home and their cars getting tagged and set on fire in the town they had lived in previously.
“I remember seeing the video of George Floyd and I remember weeping and weeping … This is a wake up call not only for America but for the world. We may never see justice here on Earth — that’s a possibility. But I assure you, there will be a day when all is judged and that day is coming soon,” Davis said.
Jesse Aynes, a member of the community, said he decided to attend the vigil because he feels “we all have a part to play in this and what happened to George Floyd and many others could have been prevented.”
“It’s up to all of us to do our part to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he added.
Mt. Pleasant Community High School senior Piper Wiley said she was planning to attend the protest in Burlington but decided against it after rumors about agitators planning to make the event violent.
“I thought instead of just not going anywhere, this is an opportunity,” she said of why she decided to attend the vigil.
“I think it’s important to be able to help. Black people have been trying to have their voices heard and I don’t want to speak for them, but I want to be able to help elevate their voice if I can,” Wiley added.