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Group Protests Sexual Assault Culture in Bar

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- A group of masked protestors marched out at the bathroom at Brothers Bar and Grill on Saturday night, hoisting signs into the crowd of college-aged bar goers -- and immediately got noticed.

The group is called ROAR -- Radical Organizing Against Rape -- and the members decided to protest the culture that perpetuates sexual assault and violence against all genders in one of the places that it starts: the bars.

ROAR members did not make it far into the Brothers crowd before security started grabbing their signs and pushing them by the shoulders and out the front door.

"I was asked to leave and I was aggressively pushed out of the bar," said ROAR member Victoria Watson.

ROAR then took its protest to the Ped Mall and Clinton Street, chanting, "Stop the violence, end the silence," and "Hey, Mister Mister, get your hands off my sister," making a loop around downtown. The members said the protest is not just about one bar -- it was about an entire culture.

"We need to redefine what rape looks like, we need to redefine what consent looks like, and we need to educate people to what that looks like. We need a more progressive approach to this," said ROAR member KT Hawbaker.

And ROAR wants more -- more education, more training, more empowerment.

"I think education is the first step to empowerment," said ROAR member Anne Ventullo.

That wish may already be taking hold.

After the protest, Brothers general manager Nicholas Carroll came out and talked to the group, asking what he could do to help.  The group suggested getting by-stander intervention training for the bar's staff, and Carroll said he would. ROAR is looking for a domino effect.

"One, that bars are going to continue to follows Brothers' example," Ventullo said. "And also, that the people and the culture are going to recognize and the masses are going to recognize that this is a movement they can get behind."

Because, ROAR members said, the group, the message and the protests aren't going anywhere.

"There is a hunger out there in our culture for this to change," Hawbaker said.

You can find out more about ROAR Iowa City by visiting the group's open Facebook group.
 
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