DES MOINES, Iowa – On Wednesday, the Des Moines Police Department reported they made 17 arrests during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Iowa State Capitol.

House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, and Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, on Thursday issued a statement addressing the violence that took place.

The protesters assembled to call for Gov. Kim Reynolds to sign an executive order restoring voting rights to felons released from prison.

Police officers monitoring the protest arrested three protesters connected to their role vandalizing a Des Moines Police squad car at a protest at Hy-Vee on June 20, 2020.

Sgt. Paul Parizek, public information officer with the Des Moines Police Department, said protesters surrounded DMPD officers and State Patrol troopers escorting one of the arrested protesters to State Capitol Building’s parking lot. He said one protester attempted to block the officers’ path.

“As officers attempted to arrest this person, several people in the crowd began to assault the officers. Violent physical attempts were made to pull the arrestees from the custody of the police officers. The police officers were also pushed, pulled, hit, and jumped on,” he said in a released statement.

“At one point, a protestor assaulted a police officer by jumping on his back, placing him in a chokehold, and wrestling him to the ground. As they struggled on the ground, the officer was disarmed of his duty handgun. The officer was able to recover the handgun. This protestor was arrested,” Parizek added.

Des Moines Police posted a video of the violence on Facebook:

Nearly 50 law enforcement officers from the Des Moines Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, and other local law enforcement agencies responded to the incident and dispersed protesters. Parizek said pepper spray was used during the event.

Grassley and Whitver issued their statement supporting law enforcement action and condemned the violence.

“House and Senate leadership strongly support the actions taken by law enforcement at the Capitol yesterday to end a violent confrontation with a disorderly group of protestors. We respect any Iowans exercising their constitutionally protected right to peacefully assemble. The legislature took swift action this year in an effort to improve law enforcement in Iowa,” they said.

“Assaulting, disarming, and spitting on law enforcement is never acceptable and will not be tolerated by any group on the Capitol grounds. The Iowa Capitol is a public building supported by every Iowan, and any member of the public choosing to come to this building should feel welcome. It is not, nor will it become, an area of lawlessness.

“House and Senate leadership are in strong support of Iowa’s men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. We thank them for their service and truly appreciate the job they do,” Grassley and Whitver concluded.

Black Lives Matter Des Moines called the Des Moines Police Department account of the incident “a complete lie.”

Read their statement below:

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