Many of the “Occupy Des Moines” protesters who were arrested for trespassing on statehouse grounds have entered pleas of not guilty and asked for a jury trial.
Jonathan Vaage was among the nearly 50 “Occupy Des Moines” activists who showed up at the Polk County Courthouse for a rally before the initial hearing for the arrested protesters.
“The fact that we’re even here at the courthouse defending these citizens highlights the injustice evident in the misappropriation of law enforcement,” he said.
Having a speaker pause after every phrase so the crowd around can repeat the words is one of the hallmarks of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. The protesters call it “the people’s mic” — however, for their midday march through downtown Des Moines, some of the protesters shouted into mega phones as they walked the three blocks between the courthouse and the Wells Fargo building. A few were dressed as prisoners and chained themselves together.
“Woe is me,” they sang. “We’re chained to this economy.”
When the protesters arrived at the door of Wells Fargo, they discovered locked doors and a note. David Goodner, one of the protesters, read it aloud.
“There’s a sign on the door that says: ‘We are unexpectedly closed due to an emergency.’ Do you want to know what that emergency is?” Goodner asked, before answering his own question. “All of us.”
Five of the protesters have entered guilty pleas and agreed to pay a $100 fine, plus court costs on the trespassing charge. Four pled guilty today; another woman pled guilty when she was released last week. Most of the rest of the 32 people who were arrested and charged with trespassing at the statehouse grounds on Sunday, October 9 are pleading not guilty and want a jury trial. Two juveniles were arrested as well, but their cases are being handled in juvenile court.
(This story was updated at 5:02 p.m. with additional information)