Register reporter Katie Akin is pepper sprayed while covering a George Floyd protest at the Iowa State Capitol on June 1, 2020.
Des Moines Register
After four nights of protests in Des Moines, the city prepares for more vigils and protests against police action in Minneapolis that led to the death of a black man, George Floyd.
Here’s what Register journalists are reporting Tuesday:
►More: Police use tear gas to clear Capitol grounds late Monday after issuing several dispersal orders to protesters
Protesters walk to police station, Iowa Capitol
11:35 p.m.: At the steps of the Capitol building, peaceful protesters form a human chain to prevent others from getting closer to police.
11:20 p.m.: As the group moves past the Iowa Capitol, some start to advance up the steps on the north side of the building toward police. Organizers are yelling at them to turn away and not get close to law enforcement. Some continue to march.
10:35 p.m.: As protesters continue zig-zagging through the East Village, all is quiet at the Iowa Capitol, where police staged there are sitting on the steps, drinking water.
Those marching are chanting, cheering at cars who honk in support and dancing to music. “This is much more positive than the group we saw last night,” says Jordan Peitzman, who was live-streaming on Facebook.
10:20 p.m.: Some in the group, which has grown to about 1,000, want to stop at the Iowa Capitol, but leaders encourage them to keep marching to avoid any unrest, agitation or a stand-off with police. The group keeps moving around the East Village after peacefully circling the Capitol building.
10:05 p.m.: The group has grown to about 500 or more people. All are heading to the Iowa Capitol, the site of protests that ended in police use of force, including tear gas, on Monday night.
9:55 p.m. A group heading to the police station find Court Avenue blocked by city trash trucks. Meanwhile, about 200 protesters are at the Iowa Capitol.
9:25 p.m.: About 300 people begin walking east, some toward the Des Moines Police Department and the Iowa Capitol.
March from downtown sculpture park to governor’s mansion
9 p.m.: Just as the countywide curfew hits, speakers end at the sculpture park, encouraging attendees to stay engaged to advance change. They also encourage attendees — especially those of different races and ethnicities — to trade numbers, meet for coffee and stay connected as neighbors.
People begin leaving peacefully.
8:45 p.m.: All but a small group of about 75 have left the Terrace Hills grounds. Some of the organizers are trying to calm the group down and get them to leave.
8:35 p.m.: The group starts to march back to the sculpture park. Again, organizers are asking everyone to stay peaceful.
“I ask all my white brothers and sisters, do not vandalize in our name,” one man says.
8:30 p.m.: A speaker asks for a headcount of people in the crowd who voted in today’s primary election. He encourages them to attend the next Des Moines City Council meeting on June 8 to engage with the mayor and city council members.
8:25 p.m.: Some Iowa State Patrol officers take off their riot gear — shields and batons — as they guard Terrace Hill, at the request of protesters. The group cheers and organizer Will Robinson approaches law enforcement, shaking their hands and hugging them.
“One of our demands will be met. We asked that the police put down their guns and batons,” he said.
He also asked the crowd to leave peacefully, when the time comes: “We came here without violence. And that’s exactly how we will leave.”
8:20 p.m.: The group, with signs and fists in the air, pauses for 30 seconds of silence.
8:05 p.m.: The group is encouraging others to stay peaceful. Tana Weber, 36, yelled at a protester who threw a rock at a Public Works truck and who was agitating people to fight.
“This is a black lives matter rally. It’s a peaceful protest. We can’t have white people doing that,” Weber said. “I’m here for my son because he’s a black male. He’s been harassed in my driveway by police twice.”
7:55 p.m.: The first marchers have reached Terrace Hill, 2300 Grand Ave., and are greeted with sheriff’s deputies in riot gear and an armored vehicle guarding the mansion’s driveway.
The group is being allowed to gather on the Terrace Hill lawn while a line of law enforcement is guarding the perimeter.
They’re asking Gov. Kim Reynolds to come outside and address the crowd, chanting “We wanna talk!” Protesters are reminding each other not to enter the property in case officers use force to get them to leave.
7:40 p.m.: The march is underway with an estimated 1,000 people marching on Grand Avenue west toward the governor’s mansion. At one point, the crowd stretches from 18th Street to the start of the bridge over Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.
The crowd is chanting “The people united will never be divided,” “No justice, no peace,” “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” — all rallying cries heard over the last four days of protesting in Des Moines and nationwide.
7:30 p.m.: A few hundred people have gathered on the western side of the park. It’s a relaxed atmosphere with music and people chatting.
7:20 p.m.: People are starting to gather at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines for a march to Terrace Hill, the governor’s mansion, about a mile away.
There’s a table set up with cold water, masks and snacks for attendees as the temperature reaches near 90 degrees.
Ingersoll Avenue businesses close early, board windows
6:30 p.m.: Some businesses on Ingersoll Avenue have closed early as a precaution against protesters who plan to be in the area tonight.
A march is planned from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park to Terrace Hill, the governor’s mansion, at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The governor’s mansion is at 23rd Street and Grand Avenue, blocks away from the Ingersoll Avenue business district.
Workers board up the Price Chopper on Ingersoll Avenue in Des Moines ahead of a protest that was marching from the Sculpture Garden to Terrace Hill on June 2, 2020. (Photo: Special to the Register)
The Station on Ingersoll, a local sports bar, closed at 6 p.m. So did the Price Chopper, which is currently boarding up its windows at the grocery store and gas station.
A Des Moines Register editor who was just at Office Max was told by an employee: “We’re closing early, the riots are coming here” as he pulled the sliding glass door shut behind a Des Moines police officer.
Windows are boarded at the Gas Lamp, a live music venue next to the sculpture park.
Some protests in recent days have resulted in shattered business windows and, in one case, looting.
Police: Organized agitators infiltrating Iowa demonstrations
5:30 p.m.: Organized agitators have infiltrated multiple Iowa protests in the past week, inciting violence at what were intended to be peaceful demonstrations, according to a Des Moines Register investigation.
Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek and two Des Moines civil rights activists who have tried to lead peaceful protests in recent days — state Rep. Ako-Abdul Samad and Calvetta Williams — described scenarios in which groups of people strategically park vehicles loaded with riot supplies, including backpacks full of rocks or bottles and masks, near the sites of demonstrations.
They said members of the groups move briefly to the front of crowds and stir emotion with incendiary chants before some throw objects such as rocks.
The members of the groups quickly depart, leaving behind angry crowds, Parizek, Abdul-Samad and Williams said.
Police have used tear gas and other nonlethal uses of force at nearly all of the protests in Des Moines over the last four nights after officers say crowds have become agitated.
►READ MORE HERE: Organized agitators infiltrating Iowa demonstrations, police and activists say
Iowa State University Football Coach Matt Campbell joined about 200 people at a protest outside the Ames City Hall on Tuesday, June 6, 2020. (Photo: Travis Hines/Ames Tribune)
Matt Campbell kneels with officers, protesters in Ames
5 p.m.: Iowa State University football coach Matt Campbell joined in kneeling with 350 others at Ames City Hall for a “Kneel with Us” gathering. He declined to comment on why he was there, instead pointing to the voices of organizers and attendees, including Jeana Gibson, who vocalized frustrations to the crowd in front of an Ames Police Department officer who chose to kneel during the speech.
“What we’ve been seeing is a violation of humanity, and contrary to what we as a community believe in,” the speaker announced. “We are tired of it, and we appreciate you guys coming out kneeling with us.”
Adding, “We feel like we haven’t been heard. We’re tired.”
Des Moines police will review video of Register reporter pepper sprayed
5 p.m.: The Des Moines Register’s executive editor says police have agreed to conduct an internal review of an officer who pepper sprayed a Register reporter covering a protest late Monday after she repeatedly identified herself as a member of the press.
Police used tear gas and flash bangs to dispel a crowd at the Iowa Capitol that officials described as agitated. Reporter Katie Akin was standing away from the larger crowd and was beginning to leave.
►More: Des Moines police agree to conduct internal review after officer pepper sprays reporter, Register editor says
In a video posted on Twitter Akin repeatedly states, “I’m with the Des Moines Register, I’m going.” One officer appears to lower their canister of pepper spray as she walks by. Another officer jogs ahead of Akin to pepper spray her.
Akin tweeted that she was holding her press badge and shouting she was press when she was pepper sprayed in the right eye and ear. In total, she identifies herself as press or with the Register 17 times in about 30 seconds.
On Sunday, Register reporter Andrea Sahouri was tear gassed, arrested and charged with failure to disperse and interference with officials acts. Photographer Bryon Houlgrave was hit in the thigh with a rubber bullet.
“Journalists must be free to report without interference or attacks. That’s the very essence of a free and independent press,” Register Executive Editor Carol Hunter said.
Police say crowd became ‘agitated’ before firing tear gas Monday
4:30 p.m.: Police issued five dispersal orders before using force Monday, the last of which was read at about 11:45 p.m.
Sgt. Alex Dinkla, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, said today that law enforcement started reading the dispersal orders when protesters began throwing water bottles at police and the Capitol building. About one-third of the group left when orders were read, he said.
►More: Monday’s protest: Largely peaceful crowd moves downtown before police deploy tear gas
As the night wore on, the group increasingly became agitated and was gathering water bottles to throw, he said.
“That group became agitated and several of the community leaders at the Capitol steps walked off the line and told us ‘they’re agitated, they’re threatening to do violence,'” Dinkla said.
Des Moines Register reporters did not witness any violence or vandalism from the crowd the entire evening and did not see any objects thrown toward police immediately prior to their advancement.
Iowa officials talk use of force
11 a.m.: Gov. Kim Reynolds was asked at a news conference Tuesday about the state’s threshold for law enforcement to physically remove people, use pepper spray or release tear gas. Reynolds said tactics are used in “chaotic” scenarios that involve “agitators” who destroy property and potentially harm other Iowans.
Reynolds noted the “chaotic” scenarios that involve “agitators” who could destroy property and harm other Iowans.
“I mean … that’s elements of what’s taking place,” Reynolds said.
►More: ‘I’m focused on Iowa’: Reynolds declines to comment on law enforcement using tear gas on peaceful protesters in D.C.
Stephan Bayens, commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, added: “It’s not a science, it’s an art, so to speak … those events are incredibly dynamic and chaotic.”
Bayens said officers have been trained to make decisions based on what’s happening at the moment, and that includes incoming information from personnel on the ground.
Nearly every gathering over the last four nights has ended with law enforcement deploying tear gas and/or flash bangs and rubber bullets.
Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines on June 1, 2020. (Photo: Olivia Sun/The Register)
9 p.m. curfew in effect, voters exempt
10:45 a.m.: Once again, a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is in effect in Polk County, though county supervisors said it does not apply to those voting in today’s primary election. Polls close at 9 p.m.
County officials say the curfew will remain in effect until property damage and violence subsides.
►More: Polk authorities say curfew is needed until unrest dies down; ACLU calls it too broad
Meanwhile, West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer has signed an order extending the 9 p.m. curfew to the entire city. The suburb sits in Polk, Dallas, Madison and Warren counties. The curfew will remain in place as long as the Polk County curfew is in place or modified.
Protestors march eastward on Grand Ave. following an organized rally against the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020 in Des Moines. (Photo: Olivia Sun/The Register)
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