“Occupy Des Moines” protesters are being evicted from the statehouse grounds.
The group’s permit to camp in a park west of the state capitol building expires at 11 o’clock tonight. Caleb Hunter, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, says the group’s request to continue camping in the park was denied.
“Our procedure and policy has not been to grant permits beyond three days to occupy the ground at any one time and so we are trying to be consistent with that policy here with this organization,” Hunter says.
State Troopers say they’ll enforce the 11 p.m. curfew and any protestors who try to to stay in the park overnight will be arrested. Frank Cordaro of Des Moines is likely to be among them. He was among about 20 people who marched to the offices of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Governor Terry Branstad this morning in protest.
“This isn’t really about permits, going through, jumping hoops. We’ve jumped the hoops. We’ve done our task. This governor wants to kicks us off this property,” Cordaro said. “You know, the mayor of New York tried to kick those guys out of Wall Street and it didn’t get kicked out because a lot of people showed up and didn’t let it happen.”
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement began in September and has spawned groups throughout the country which denounce corporate greed. The “Occupy Des Moines” protesters say their free speech rights are being denied because they did not get a permit to continue camping or “occupying” the state capitol grounds round the clock. Governor Branstad says the group has been treated fairly.
“We have made accommodations to groups that wanted to have an event that may lasted for two or three days,” Branstad said during an appearance on Iowa Public Radio. “Nobody’s ever had a permit for more than three days. This group was granted a three-day permit. That is now over and that is the same policy that’s been in place, as far as I know, for decades.”
Late Sunday night, 32 protesters who refused to comply with a curfew on the state capitol grounds were arrested and charged with trespassing. The group convened a “General Assembly” Monday and decided to apply for a state permit to camp on the grounds. The protesters and their tents have been on the grounds this week, about a block away from the statehouse where foreign dignitaries gathered Thursday night for a World Food Prize banquet.
Tomorrow, Occupy Iowa protests are scheduled in Des Moines, Iowa City, Mason City, Cedar Falls and Dubuque.