Waterloo teen's death sparks civil discourse conversation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo teen's death sparks civil discourse conversation

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

About three dozen people gathered in Waterloo Tuesday night to talk about embracing diversity and seeking justice.  It's in the wake of the beating death of 19-year-old Marcellus Andrews.  For the first time, Andrews' family is speaking out.

The Waterloo Commission on Human Rights opened a community invitation to a conversation at Jubilee Church Tuesday night.  The discussion was aimed at answering a lot of questions that remain about why Marcellus Andrews was beaten to death, and what's being done to bring those responsible to justice.

"We wish they could've been locked up the day it happened, you know.  But sometimes you have to be patient," said Renicia Haywood, cousin of Marcellus Andrews.

The conversation was largely spurred because of anti-gay slurs that were allegedly used when Andrews was beaten along Cottage Road.  While Andrews' family does not believe he was gay, they agree that kind of language isn't acceptable.

"Hate crime or not,  he's not coming back.  He's dead," Haywood said.

Haywood says no person deserves to be killed like Marcellus was.  And those at Tuesday's meeting agree that the community should be more willing to embrace unique individuals like him.

"It is a very diverse community:  black, white, Jew, Gentile, Protestant, Catholic, gay, straight.  I think once we stop pretending that we are all the same and appreciate our differences--it's not until then that we'll move in a direction that will give God glory," said Rev. Abraham Funchess, with the Waterloo Human Rights Commission.

Now the community and Andrews' family are left hoping that the people responsible for carrying out the crime will pay for what they've done.

Waterloo director of safety services Dan Trelka says that all the police evidence collected following Andrews' beating has been turned over to Black Hawk County Attorney Tom Ferguson.  It will be up to Ferguson to decide what criminal charges should be filed in the case.

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