At least 30 Occupy Iowa protesters arrested in Des Moines (updated)

Iowa state troopers arrested at least 30 people outside the state Capitol building late last night in order to break up a protest by people supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country.

UPDATE: Monday evening’s protest in Des Moines didn’t lead to any arrests. Further details are below.

Occupy Iowa has organized several protests around the state, but so far only the Des Moines event led to any arrests. Hundreds of people gathered west of the state capitol yesterday afternoon. reported,

By about 10 p.m., the group had shrunk to about 175 people, who had set up 24 tents and intended to occupy the area indefinitely.

Trooper Mark Logsdon warned the protesters at about 10:30 p.m. that they would be arrested if they stayed. About 100 members of the group, which included both teenagers and senior citizens, moved across the street near the State Historical Building to avoid arrest.

A source who stayed told me that shortly after 11 pm, protesters linked arms and sat down in the park. At least one state trooper warned the group that they would be pepper-sprayed if they refused to leave. The source saw many people dragged away by their feet. At least one man was pepper-sprayed and taken away by ambulance. Roughly 30 people were arrested, including former State Representative Ed Fallon. Fallon spent most of the night at the Polk County jail, he told me this morning. State troopers arrested at least one minor (14 years old), who was taken to a juvenile detention facility.

Speaking to, Drake University Law Professor Sally Frank described the events as “a complete police over-reaction. The police could have chosen to let the protest remain, as they have in Iowa City and many other places […] There was some brutality. One man was pepper-sprayed and injured.”

I can’t see any reason for law enforcement to use pepper spray on citizens who are protesting peacefully in a public space. They weren’t harming anyone or destroying any property.

Occupy Iowa plans to protest outside the Capitol again today. I will update this post with further developments.

UPDATE: This YouTube video was filmed during the Sunday afternoon protests.

SECOND UPDATE: Governor Terry Branstad commented on the arrests during his regular weekly press conference on October 10:

“People in this country have a right to demonstrate and express their viewpoints, however we do have permits and requirements and as I understand, they had a meeting in the afternoon, but this was 11 o’clock at night and they did not have a permit to stay,” Branstad says. “…The Highway Patrol…I think they acted in an appropriate and restrained manner in protecting the public safety and enforcing the requirements of having a permit.”

However, Branstad told reporters this morning permits are not available for camping overnight on the statehouse grounds. According to the governor, the country’s focus should be on “creating jobs” and he suggested the protesters’ message may be harmful to that effort.

“I think we’ve got to be careful about casting blame and attacking people who we want to invest and create jobs,” Branstad said during his weekly news conference inside the statehouse. “I’m very concerned about not sending the wrong signals to the decision makers in business.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Executive Director Hugh Espey described the governor’s comments as “ridiculous.” Espey was at the park when troopers arrested protesters on Sunday night.

THIRD UPDATE: From an e-mail Fallon sent to supporters on October 10:

Last night, I was one of over thirty protesters arrested at “People’s Park” on the Iowa State Capitol grounds. Honestly, I was surprised by the hostile response of the State Patrol. We were on public property and obstructing neither vehicular nor pedestrian traffic. We were peaceful. We were exercising our right to freedom of speech and to petition our government. The demeanor of many of the troopers made no sense to me, especially coming from a division of State Government that I respect and worked well with when I was a state lawmaker.

Today, as I dialogue with some of the 500 people who participated in yesterday’s “occupy” events, it appears the arrests have only further fueled people’s commitment to push the movement forward. (AND PLEASE ADD YOUR VOICE TO THE DIALOGUE, 6:00 PM, EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK AT PEOPLE’S PARK, E. 7TH AND LOCUST IN DES MOINES).

Speaking personally, I am pleased that the group’s focus has been on State Government. Why? Because of State Government’s complicity in furthering corporate domination of our lives.

Want specifics?

– Tax breaks for powerful insurance companies, mega hospitals, and wealthy developers, to name a few.

– Law changes that favor the interests of big ag over small- and mid-size family farms, resulting in, for example, a drop in the number of pork producers from roughly 80,000 not too many years ago to under 8,000 today.

– The creation of corporate welfare programs to pad the coffers of companies already rich and powerful, companies like Wells Fargo, Monsanto, Maytag, and Iowa Beef Processors.

– Preferential law changes for MidAmerican Energy, central Iowa’s utility monopoly, including a proposed rate-payer give-away that could cost 630,000 customers billions of dollars.

The list goes on and on. The point is, State Government should be the People’s Government. It’s become Big Business’ Government. What better place to reclaim a say in how our tax dollars are spent than in the shadow of the State Capitol Building, in “People’s Park?”

TUESDAY UPDATE: Radio Iowa reported that none of the Occupy Iowa protesters were arrested last night:

For a few hours on Monday evening, the group debated whether to stage a full-time occupation of the area or apply to state officials for a permit to meet at the site. […]

By 11 o’clock, when the curfew took effect, about 50 “Occupy Des Moines” protesters started walking back and forth across the street in front the park, avoiding any arrests as they all left the statehouse grounds. Troopers remained on the scene for a while, as the “Occupy Des Moines” crowd stood on a city sidewalk across the street. […]

A majority of the group agreed to ask state officials for a permit to “occupy” the park on the capitol grounds.

I would be surprised if state officials grant anyone permission to stay in that park beyond the curfew, which apparently isn’t posted on the grounds. Troopers used excessive force to break up Sunday night’s demonstration. They should have left the peaceful protesters alone. Iowa City law enforcement officials have taken a different approach, the Daily Iowan reported:

Here, though, anti-corproate protesters in College Green Park have carried on entirely peacefully.

Iowa City police are even lending the event overnight protection.

Iowa City police officers have no plans to arrest demonstrators and officials told The Daily Iowan they will monitor the demonstration to protect protesters.

Robert Schueler, who has been demonstrating at Occupy Iowa City since Friday night, said the Occupy Iowa City protesters have a positive relationship with local police.

“They’ve been absolutely wonderful,” Schueler said. “I wish they would come by more, talk, and be a part of this. Don’t be an outsider when you can be an insider.”

LATER UPDATE: The Iowa City Parks and Rec director Mike Moran will let the protesters bring portable toilets to College Green Park and plans to meet with the group this Friday.

Moran said he is yet to receive any complaints about the protesters, who have transformed College Green Park into a makeshift city. […]

Moran said he is pleased that the activists are taking care of the park.  He intends to talk to them Friday about some upcoming projects that may require them to temporarily move their tents.  “We are going to be doing light replacement,” he said.  The city also plans to collect leaves in the park this month.  Moran said he is open to seeking help from protesters if they’re interested in assisting with the collection.

FINAL UPDATE: On October 11 state officials granted protesters a three-day permit to protest on the Capitol grounds.

  • This is a shocking overreaction.

    Pepper spray is a weapon, for use against violent behavior.  The Des Moines Police (and NYPD) are using it as a punishment for peaceful civil disobedience. Shame on them.  They should have to write the First Amendment out on the blackboard 100 times or so.

    • I think it was the Iowa State Patrol

      rather than the Des Moines Police, but I totally agree with your point.

      • It was scary. . .

        All at once 13 ISP/DMPD cars showed up, lights going, along with 2 prison vans. Later, I saw a DMPD officer go back to his car to grab a canister of pepper spray. A short time later a K9 unit arrived with a loud barking dog. Thats when I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Those who didn’t want to get arrested gathered across the street on the corner of the Historical building and chanted wildly. One side of the side walk was “free” and the other side was a ticket to jail. It was a very very tense atmosphere. I’ve never seen that type of force used in my life let alone against a peaceful group assembling in a public park. All this over a curfew? wow. Iowa City PD have the right idea on this one.

        • Iowa City Police

          will only hassle you if you try to have a beer 😛

        • thanks for your comment

          Is it true that the 11 pm curfew is not posted anywhere on the capitol grounds? One of the protesters told me that, but I have not been able to confirm, and I thought perhaps that person simply hadn’t noticed a posted sign.

          • Hours Posted....

            Short answer. NO. There are signs that say “visitor parking” a bit closer to the capital, but other than that there is no sign about the title of the park or hours posted of any sort. It is not the same locations many other protests have used. The location of OccupyDSM is not on the steps very close to the capital. The OccupyDSM location is very near the street on E. 7th & Locust. There is a giant map of the state of Iowa with 99 counties in the cement/stone/brick work leading up the the capital steps. There are grassy patches on either side of the main brick/terrace work on the west side of the state capitol building grounds. The first time anyone knew about the 11pm curfew was when they were verbally warned by the IowaStatePatrol. Also, other people were not arrested at other places on the Capitol Grounds even tho the Capitol Grounds supposedly close at 11pm. Seeing giant canisters of pepper spray, a tazer, zip ties, and hearing the K9 unit in the background was the first time I’d ever seen anything like it.

  • The defacing of the Capitol grounds is criminal...

    Photos have now surfaced showing walls defaced on the Iowa capitol grounds by the ‘occupy’ protestors.

    I fully support our law enforcement enforcing the curfew and arresting those breaking the law….posted or unposted.

    Peaceful protest is one thing, scofflaws and thugs another.  

    To the occupy group…remember…it is not JUST your park…start policing your own.

    • Got a link for that assertion? nt

      • Not assertion....fact

        For one source, take a look at story and the picture of the defaced grounds…

        …secondly, why do you ask that I do your homework FOR you?  you could of very easily googled photos of the damage done by the protesters.  Then I figured it out…as a protester demanding a living wage for doing no work you are used to having others do the lifting…

        Next time do your own homework…or attribute every single outlandish claim you make here.

        • the new permit

          for protesters may be revoked if anyone defaces property on the Capitol grounds. So if you are correct, I’m sure law enforcement will take action.

          Don’t make too many assumptions about the protesters, mirage. Quite a few people who were there on Sunday have jobs. One whom I spoke with about the arrests is a small business owner.  

        • As a mom...

          I can spot sidewalk chalk a mile away, and if using it on public sidewalks/concrete was considered defacing public property, my boys would have been locked up in the hoosegow years ago.

          Washed away with the next decent rain, if it’s not gone after the drizzle we had yesterday.

        • If you don't have a link, fine.

          I looked at the one you provided and it is not educational on the premise you cite.  No picture.

          • It is clearly still there....


            Like I said, you clearly want others to do for you what you won’t (can’t?) do for yourself.

            Put some effort in your life, please.

          • Another link of those you support...


            The wants and needs of this group are bizarre and extreme…I suggest you distance yourself from the “occupy” protesters as soon as possible.

            This has no place in Iowa.

  • We are sliding toward living in a police state.

    It is abundantly clear if you get on airplanes, and have to choose between radiation and sexual assault, or be booted off because the captain thinks you’re too brown.  But the signs are in plain view elsewhere.  

    Radical conservatives such as the Kochs are populating the courts with friendly judges who will make decisions like Citizens United, which means more money can be legally applied to putting their willing courtesans in elected and appointed offices to do more deconstruction of civil society.  They want to crush unions, shred the social safety net, turn schools over to the for-profit education industry, and eliminate health and safety regulations that are supposed to keep us from being killed at work and poisoned by what comes out of our taps. The privatization of prisons means we need more prisoners, so presto we get more arrested immigrants who are jailed for months, and people who would have been issued a citation even five years ago land in jail.  City governments are being disbanded in Michigan, and turned over to “emergency managers.” The right to bargain collectively is under assault across the board.

    In every state, there are efforts to consolidate power and money in the hands of the 1%, buy government, rig elections and redistricting, and eliminate any tools that people have to object, like recall elections and referenda.

    Too many Democrats are willing to carry water for the plutocrats, trading the health and welfare of citizens for campaign contributions.  Senator Gronstal will not rest until MidAmerican has its nuke plant.  Leonard Boswell may not be happy about his votes, but he is on record against clean air and clean water.  Too many Democrats in Washington, including the President, are eager to shift costs for Medicare onto seniors and reduce Social Security benefits in the name of austerity.  Tom Harkin, bless him, is in the minority who want to prevent the dismantling of the New Deal and the Great Society to pay for a 15% tax rate for hedge fund managers.

    Occupy Wall Street has shaken the plutocrats up a bit, as Paul Krugman noted this morning.  They know they need to stop it before it gets out of hand.  Expect more of this, on a continuum from ridicule to violence.  Despite their efforts,I hope we are seeing the beginning of the 99% saying: enough, already.

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.