Two Black Iowa Elected Officials Face Violent Racial Harassment

Iowa, racist attacks, Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart

by Mary Spiller

Mayors Quentin Hart and Travis Hall spoke about the harassment they faced.

Two Black Iowa County elected officials, Travis Hall and Quentin Hart, have been targets of racist harassment and threats over the past six months. On April 18, a man was arrested for his involvement in the incidents.

Travis Hall, a supervisor in Black Hawk County, recalled an incident in which someone poured caustic acid on his work truck and soon after was the victim of repeated racist calls, testing and vandalism.

“I could have gone to the truck and if (that person) had been there, would they have been thrown at me?” Hall worried. “All these questions and constant fear – that shouldn’t be the price of public office.”

Hall wasn't the only person to face such issues, Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart was also targeted because of his race.

Hart told The Courier: “It is sad that in 2024 some people still choose to judge others not by the content of our character but by the color of our skin or our political affiliation.”

Waterloo man Tyler Young was arrested and taken to the Black Hawk County Jail after police served a warrant for Young's arrest in December on multiple harassment charges. Young allegedly threatened both Hall and Hart in text messages.

Hart and Hall described receiving dozens of disturbing text messages in which he was called the N-word and other racist and homophobic slurs. One message read: “Go back to Africa with all the other gorillas.”

Although the messages appeared to come from different phone numbers, local authorities were able to link both to Young – a man neither Hall nor Hart knew.

Both elected officials told the media outlet that the harassment was continuous. Hart said he sometimes received up to 20 calls a day threatening him and his children. Both men received notifications on their phones about people trying to fraudulently access their online accounts and others where people were trying to create new accounts in their names on apps like Tinder.

Young has not been charged with the vandalism that occurred on Hall or Hart properties last year. In October 2023, both men's cars were destroyed. Hart and Hall said they had trash thrown into their yards and even their mail tampered with.

The hall opened to the exit. “All of these things make me feel uneasy and knowing that it’s because I’m Black is a burden,” Hall said. “It was certainly a stressor to be afraid of the unknown waiting for me around every corner or when I pick up the phone.”

“Quentin and I are not the first Black elected officials to be targeted [of racism]. The fact that you are a public, elected official should not mean that you are affected by this.”

Hall praised local law enforcement officials for continuing to take threats against him and Hart seriously.

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