BLM releases statement on arrests at statehouse

The following is a statement made by the Black Lives Matter regarding the violent arrests that took place during the peaceful demonstration at the Iowa Statehouse:

Yesterday at 1 pm, organizers and supporters of Des Moines BLM gathered at the Iowa State Capitol to call for Governor Kim Reynolds to issue an executive order restoring voting rights to Iowas with felony convictions. This is the third week that we have been at the Capitol, protesting in the same manner.

State patrol officers arrived in numbers, holding papers with photos of protesters from previous events on them. They were looking for members of our movement in the crowd, in an attempt to arrest them and incite fear. Protesters were arrested inside and outside of the Capitol around 1 pm. Officers outside the capitol forcefully grabbed one of our organizers and marched her inside and into a closed-off room. We stood outside, asking for officers to tell us why she was being detained and on what charges, but received no answer. At no point did they identify her by name or show proof of a warrant for arrest. She was illegally detained without access to an attorney.

As officers began to move our protesters out of the Capitol in handcuffs to take them to Polk County Jail, we followed them outside and continued to ask why people had been detained and why their charges were not announced. DMPD arrived and acted extremely aggressive towards protesters. Another one of our organizers was grabbed by officers and our protesters began to de-arrest them. De-arresting a fellow protester is a non-violent response to what is often a violent act by law enforcement. This is done by pulling protesters away from officers in an effort to protect them from being pinned down, beaten, and ultimately detained by police.

From there, officers became violent and unmanageable as they pushed and shoved protestors. Two Black women were put into chokeholds and one was slammed up against the side of a van, causing injury. Others who were arrested reported being inappropriately touched by their arresting officers. Approximately 22 of our people were arrested using unnecessary force.

Thanks to the work of the DSM Mutual Aid Fund and the generosity of our entire community, were were able to quickly bail out our people from Polk County Jail. The charges brought against us were purposefully inflated in order to drain as much of the community-backed bail fund as possible. Some of those arrested were also told that they would be banned from the Capitol for one year, prohibiting them from contacting their elected representatives, including Governor Reynolds. They are also now facing felony charges, which would restrict their right to vote. This is the same issue we are fighting against, and did not happen by coincidence.

We are infuriated by the actions of the DMPD and Iowa State Patrol, and the inaction of our elected officials in reprimanding and investigating them. Our organizers were targeted today, in a space where they should have been given the security to practice their First Amendment right to protest Governor Kim Reynolds MUST issue an executive order reinstating voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions immediately. We will see justice for yesterday’s events.

Black Lives Matter

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