Des Moines, Iowa (WHO) – Des Moines police say officers were assaulted by Black Lives Matter protesters at the State Capitol on Wednesday and now more than a dozen of those protesters have been arrested.
Sergeant Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department says officers went to the Capitol around 1:00 pm on Wednesday afternoon hoping to find suspects wanted on outstanding charges for a protest that lead to the destruction of a police vehicle last month. Three of the suspects police were looking for were taken into custody peacefully as they protested inside the building.
But as officers transported the suspects to their vehicles outside, another group of protesters intervened. That is when Parizek says things turned violent.
“It’s probably one of the more violent assaults on police officers I’ve seen in a long time,” Parizek said, “These cops were tackled to the ground, they were yanked on. At one point one of the officers was tackled from behind and put into a chokehold. (He) was wrestled to the ground and in that struggle he had his gun knocked free from his holster.” That officer was able to recover his gun, Parizek says.
At least 18 people were arrested at the scene and are now facing charges including Assault and Disarming a Police Officer, according to Parizek.
Parizek says he has attended protest training sessions and knows that protesters have been instructed to never physically touch an officer. Parizek says once someone is in custody it is up to the court system to take the next steps.
Video of the clash provided to WHO 13 clearly shows a large crowd physically interacting with officers. WHO 13 offered numerous BLM Des Moines members the opportunity to speak on camera about the incident. None agreed to do so.
Protesters have taken to the streets dozens of times in recent weeks, calling for changes to policing and the criminal justice system in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd was killed when a former Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck while in custody for nearly nine minutes. Four former officers are facing murder charges for their alleged roles in Floyd’s death.
“This was way above and beyond anything that is acceptable. It is certainly not associated with protest. If you’re going to start assaulting police officers and you’re going to start assaulting other people, we’re going to start arresting people and we’ll arrest everyone if we have to.”