Troopers arrested 12 Occupy Des Moines protesters outside the State Capitol on Sunday night, following the group’s afternoon march to the “People’s Park” from its former encampment in Stewart Square, a city of Des Moines park.
The Iowa State Patrol first came to the park around 10:50 p.m., warning protesters that they would be arrested if they stayed past 11. About four of the protesters, sitting and linking arms, declined to stand when asked by troopers and were dragged out of the park to a waiting van after the curfew.
In a departure from the group’s usually cordial attitude toward law enforcement, the protesters on Sunday night ridiculed the troopers from across the street, where protesters who did not want to be arrested were asked to stand.
Shouts of “quit your jobs” and “Good job guys, way to arrest the real criminals,” came from the crowd as protesters were placed in the prisoner transport van.
The nine men and three women arrested will be charged with trespassing, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Jessica Lown said about midnight. The names of the 12 were not immediately available.
Iowa State Patrol Capt. Mark Logsdon said Sunday afternoon that the 11 o’clock curfew for the park would remain in effect and that troopers would give protesters who stayed several warnings and opportunities to move before arrests begin.
Joseph Glazebrook, an attorney who works with Occupy Des Moines, said Sunday afternoon that a “handful” of protesters would be willing to risk arrest.
The group cited the October arrests and a single three-day camping permit granted by the state after the arrests for its decision to move back to the Capitol site.
“We’ll give them another chance to be better hosts,” said Ed Fallon, a former Democratic candidate for governor and an Occupy organizer.
Glazebrook said that although protesters were willing to support an indefinite occupation, there was an understanding that their move is largely symbolic.
“I think there’s an awareness that the reality is people aren’t going to be allowed to stay here,” Glazebrook said.
“People would like to stay here and occupy as long as they can, but I think people have that expectation that it is a symbolic gesture.”
It wasn’t clear what the protesters’ next move would be if they cannot stay at either location.
Before Sunday afternoon’s march, the group gathered around the park’s stage in a closing ceremony for their encampment.
“Although we mourn the loss of our home, we remain mindful of the greater purpose that moved us to action just a few months ago,” protester Aaron Jorgenson-Briggs told the crowd.
“Although the camp is gone, its fierce and urgent heart remains.”
In a news release, Occupy Des Moines said Sunday was a national day of action for the Occupy Wall Street movement after hundreds of people associated with Occupy Oakland were arrested Saturday during a confrontation.