Cedar Rapids women are fighting back after police take multiple reports of men targeting women and girls on a popular trail.
More than a hundred people walked in solidarity Friday night with victims of harassment on the Prairie Park Fishery trail. Men, women, children, and dogs gathered at the trail head around 5 pm to show their support and compassion. Women's health professionals from around the corridor set up a booth to offer resources and encouragement for participants.
Cedar Rapids Police have taken at least two reports in the last few months of problems on the trail. One woman says she was harassed by several teenage boys on bikes on October 26th around 5:15 pm. She called police after they followed her for several minutes and threatened to rape her.
Another woman said she was approached by a man in the trail's parking lot in September. Kiersten Corrigan says she was left feeling uneasy after he approached her and asked her a series of questions. Though the man didn’t threaten her, Kierstan had a gut instinct — and says the man didn’t leave until she pulled out her pepper spray. When she finally reported the incident to police, they told her those instincts were likely right. She says taking back the trail is part of her healing, but more recent reports of harassment are keeping her from running there for now.
“I don’t want to give that up and I don’t — I’m not going to be a victim," Kiersten says. "Moving forward, I think we have to be safe and we have to be conscientious about our environments and pay close attention to what’s going on around us, but we do need to take back the trail.”
Those who walked in solidarity included the former roommate of Celia Barquin Arozamena, the Iowa State golfer who was stabbed to death on a golf course in Ames in September.
"Women can’t mind their own business and they have to be in fear,” Hannah Steenblock says. “I see it in my friends now too, carrying pepper spray or a knife, while a couple years ago that wasn’t something people had to worry about."
Anyone who has experienced harassment like this is urged to report it to police.