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No. 5 story of 2020: Racial justice demonstrations come to Sioux City, SCPD gets body cams

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Demonstrators prepare to lead a march from Cook Park to the Sioux City Police Headquarters at a demonstration in June. The local protests for police reform following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer is the Journal's No. 5 story of 2020.

Editor's note: The Journal today continues its countdown of the Top 10 Stories of 2020 in Siouxland, as chosen by Journal staff. The countdown will resume in Wednesday's print edition. The No. 1 story will be revealed on Dec. 27, and the Journal's annual Newsmaker of the Year will be named on Jan. 3.

SIOUX CITY -- Outrage over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on May 25 spread across the nation in a matter of days, and reached Sioux City by May 29. 

The demonstrations in Sioux City were far less intense than those of Minneapolis, which prompted curfews and a mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard. Still, there were points when hundreds turned out and marched, mostly in downtown Sioux City. 

During several of the demonstrations, local African-American leaders and area law-enforcement officials expressed solidarity with one another. 

"I want to stand and remind you today, that all law enforcement are not bad," the Rev. Jerome Robertson said at a gathering of faith and community leaders in June. The group Unity in the Community and the local NAACP helped to organize several of the demonstrations. 

"I want you to remember not only the injustice for many, African Americans, Native Americans, people of different color. But I'd like you to think of law enforcement, because it's a tough time for us," Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew said at the same event. "It's a difficult time." 

Protesters march from Cook Park to the Sioux City Police Headquarters chanting for justice for George Floyd and others who have been killed by police.

There was, however, one point of contention -- the fact the Sioux City Police Department had yet to acquire body cameras for its officers. Advocates for the body cameras said the devices would be a tool for police accountability, documenting any misconduct or excessive use of force should such incidents occur. 

After many years of delays, the issue was brought up once again during a somewhat contentious city budget hearing in January, months before Floyd's death. But progress on the body-camera issue remained elusive, despite the reassurances of Sioux City Police officials that they did not oppose body cameras and were working on it. 

Floyd's death and the reckoning over racial justice breathed new life into the call for police body cameras in Sioux City. A petition was circulated asking the department to implement the technology. 

In early August, the Sioux City Council unanimously approved the purchase of 120 body cameras for the department. The GETAC-brand cameras, with a price tag of $260,000, were paid for with revenues from the city's traffic cameras. 

The police department unveiled its new cameras at a press conference earlier this month. Officers are required to wear the cameras during any interactions with the public. 

As protests fade, how do Sioux City civil rights activists keep passion for change burning?
Sioux City teen speaking up for others
Sioux City Police unveil body cameras
No. 6 story of 2020: Major projects open in downtown Sioux City

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