“Occupy Des Moines” protesters plan a midday march in the capitol city’s financial district, just before some of those who were arrested 10 days ago and charged with trespassing on statehouse grounds appear in court. It’s part of the group’s attempt to make their case in the court of public opinion.
“Occupy Des Moines” sent tweets several days ago questioning whether local media outlets were covering their events. The group later scheduled some of their gatherings to coincide with the 10 o’clock newscasts of the Des Moines television stations. They stood waving signs, chanting, and clapping — on live TV.
Last Friday night, during an “Occupy Des Moines General Assembly” on the statehouse grounds, a member of the group’s communications committee counseled the protesters in how to speak when reporters are around.
“No profanity. No belittling of public employees. We need to show that we are right,” he said. “If you get interviewed be calm, gentle and humble.”
Radio Iowa has recorded four different discussion sessions among the protesters over the past 10 days. It appears many in the group worry the arrests of fellow protesters sent the wrong message, discouraging others from joining the movement.
“We’ve played their game,” the communications committee leader said of the confrontation with state officials. “Now, we’re playing our game and we’re going to play it smart.”
Rather than face more confrontations with state troopers over trying to have a permanent camp on the statehouse grounds, the group voted to accept the Des Moines mayor’s invitation to use a city park instead. A woman named Pat put it this way: “We are not here to fight for where we set up. We are here to fight for changes in our country.”
Last Saturday the group marched to the Wells Fargo building in downtown Des Moines. The protesters left behind notes to Wells Fargo executives, on sticky notes which could easily be removed rather than resorting to painting or using chalk to leave their opinions as graffiti on the building.
City officials and police seem to be keeping tabs on the group’s Facebook page, tweets and blog posts about planned “Occupy Des Moines” activities in order to plan ahead and avoid confrontations between police and protesters during their marches.
Today, the “Occupy Des Moines” protesters plan a downtown Des Moines march at 11 o’clock then, at one o’clock, a hearing is scheduled for some of the protesters who were arrested late Sunday, October 9 for trying to stay past the evening curfew on statehouse grounds.
There are “Occupy” groups in Iowa City, Mason City, Dubuque and Fairfield as well. Most use Facebook, rather than Twitter, to organize.