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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Figures on a candleholder stand arm-in-arm. (Photo: Lynda Waddington/The Iowa Independent)
Figures on a candleholder stand arm-in-arm. (Photo: Lynda Waddington/The Iowa Independent)

Vigil attendees mourn lost life, advocate tolerance

By Lynda Waddington | 08.26.11 | 10:58 am

Roughly 300 people gathered around the Tree of the Five Seasons in downtown Cedar Rapids Thursday night to remember a young man who died too soon and to pledge tolerance for all. (Photo: Lynda Waddington/The Iowa Independent)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Whether or not the death of a young Waterloo man is eventually ruled a hate crime mattered little to the hundreds of vigil attendees who gathered in downtown Cedar Rapids Thursday night.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr. (letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963)

Andrew Harrison, of Cedar Rapids, is someone who has typically been involved with local vigils and demonstrations as an advocate of the local LGBT community. But when the Club Basix bartender learned of the brutal beating death of Marcellus Andrews, 19, and that anti-gay slurs that were reportedly a part of the incident that took Andrews’ life, Harrison felt compelled to step forward.

“I put this event on Facebook because I saw no one else was doing anything, and I was just outraged,” Harrison told The Iowa Independent Thursday night at the vigil. “I knew I couldn’t go up to Waterloo and be a part of any vigil there, and I thought we should do something here in Cedar Rapids because our community has always turned out for observances, vigils and demonstrations.

“I knew that Cedar Rapids could show our state and the nation that we’re not going to put up with bullying and taunting.”

Harrison’s quickly made Facebook event resulted in roughly 300 people converging near the Tree of the Five Seasons monument for a vigil consisting of official statements from equality advocates, prayer, moments of silence and singing of the gospel hymn, “Amazing Grace.”

Participants at the candlelight vigil for Marcellus Andrews represented at least four counties in eastern Iowa. (Photo: Lynda Waddington/The Iowa Independent)

Harrison added that regardless of if law enforcement investigating Andrews’ death rule the attack a hate crime, members of the LGBT community are aware of witness reports that the man was taunted with anti-gay slurs.

“No matter what one’s sexual orientation is, or what it is perceived to be, no one should be treated that way,” he said. “No one should have to hear such things — especially not at the end of his or her life. … Whether or not it was premeditated, whether or not this was a year-long dispute as the police have said it was, there should not have been comments like that made.”

Tim and Lisa Hughes, a Cedar Rapids couple that will celebrate their 30th year of marriage next week, said they were shocked to learn of such a violent thing happening in nearby Waterloo and they were shocked to know police weren’t considering prosecuting the event as a hate crime.

“Based on what we’ve heard that was said and done, it was really shocking to know this wasn’t being looked at as a hate crime,” Lisa Hughes said. “Anytime you kill someone there is hate involved.”

The couple said they wanted to come and attend the vigil because “it is important to show tolerance and acceptance of all others regardless of their race, their color, their gender or their sexual orientation.”

“We are all people,” said Lisa, who added while motioning to those around her on the 1st Avenue Bride, “And these are all good people.”

The world we live in, said Tim, has enough war and hate. “We should celebrate love and life every chance we get.”

Several families brought their children to the observance.

Maureen Hill, faculty adviser for the City High Gay-Straight Alliance in Iowa City brought a handful of students to the vigil after the organization’s co-president, Ruth Anne Riedl, called attention to Andrews’ death and the witness accounts. For some time the GSA has been working to raise awareness of gender-based bullying and to show young people how powerful it can be to stand up to such adversity. Before the national “It Gets Better” campaign was underway, the Iowa City students had developed T-shirts that called attention to suicide.

“I personally thought it was really powerful to come out tonight, given how much time the group has spent on the T-shirts and trying to raise awareness about how important it is to stand together and be safe,” she said. “That something like this happened in Iowa — we simply needed to come out and be here.”

Riedl, a student at City High, said she became furious when she read the reports about what happened to Andrews.

“We live in 2011,” she said. “There is no reason something like this should happen.

“It doesn’t really matter what a person’s sexual orientation is, or even if the bullying and taunting is related to sexual orientation — it’s not OK for people to make remarks against others like that. I just thought it was important to come out and stand together and send that message: It is not OK for things like this to happen. There is no reason this should have happened, and it should never happen again.”

Rev. Martha Rogers, rector for Christ Episcopal Church in Cedar Rapids, offered a prayer at the vigil and stood as a member of faith in the candlelight observance that followed on the bridge.

“As a member of the clergy, it is my honor and obligation to say that God creates us all, and we should all be treated with dignity and respect,” she said.

“A brutal death is not the way to change the world.”

While speakers made brief remarks, some closed their eyes and others wiped away tears.

The Cedar Rapids vigil was one of several held throughout the state in memory of Andrews and as reminders of tolerance for others. Those who were unable to attend a vigil were asked to leave their porch light on Thursday night, and individuals from California to Texas to New York left notes on that event’s Facebook page that their light was glowing.

Participants in Cedar Rapids collected $300 in donations, which will be given to the Union Missionary Baptist Church Drill Squad, the Crusaders, that Andrews helped train as a captain.

Formal services for Andrews will be held this weekend.

Following public remarks, participants lined both sides of the 1st Ave Bridge.

The memorial continued until late in the night.

Follow Lynda Waddington on Twitter


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