Over 100 people gathered on the statehouse grounds late Monday afternoon to plot strategy for their “Occupy Des Moines” movement, but there were no more arrests.
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Thirty-two people were arrested late Sunday, charged with trespassing after an evening curfew as the group tried to stage an “occupation” on the state capitol grounds. For a few hours on Monday evening, the group debated whether to stage a full-time occupation of the area or apply to state officials for a permit to meet at the site.
“Occupy has a very specific meaning and if we’re getting a permit, even to sleep overnight, we are assembling at that point. We’re not occupying. They’re allowing us to assemble,” one man said. “…I’m here for an occupation. If it’s going to be an assembly, that’s where I’m out at that point.”
A man named Tim offered up his opinion of staying put and facing another round of arrests.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea and I don’t think everybody wants to stay here and get arrested and play with this game with the state troopers every night,” he said. “Nor should we put them through that.”
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By 11 o’clock, when the curfew took effect, about 50 “Occupy Des Moines” protesters started walking back and forth across the street in front the park, avoiding any arrests as they all left the statehouse grounds. Troopers remained on the scene for a while, as the “Occupy Des Moines” crowd stood on a city sidewalk across the street.
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It was the kind of peaceful end to the night that 57-year-old Peggy Galletley of Lake City had argued for earlier Monday evening, during the group’s “General Assembly” gathering.
“I went to law school and I just don’t understand bucking things that don’t need to be bucked. Our argument here is about corporate greed,” Galletley said. “…I’ve never been arrested. I’ve never seen the inside of a jail. I don’t want to start at 57.”
Britney Taylor, a mother of two young kids from Des Moines, suggested the news of arrests every night would discourage others from joining the movement.
“I think it’s more about getting more people out here and giving people the real message and that’s, you know, fighting corporate greed and giving everyone a fair chance,” Taylor said. “So why spend a night in jail if you don’t have to?”
A majority of the group agreed to ask state officials for a permit to “occupy” the park on the capitol grounds. Thirty-seven-year-old Misti Craig of Des Moines isn’t a fan of that approach.
“We went to Washington, D.C. and we went to Ben Bernanke’s house and we went to ‘The Fed’ and we went to the White House and we asked, ‘Please, let’s not do this…You’re going to bankrupt our nation,'” she said. “And it seems to me that the time for asking has passed.”