DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Demonstrators have marched through downtown Des Moines to protest George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis after an earlier rally turned into a melee in which participants threw bricks at police cars.
Live video from WHO-TV on Saturday showed dozens of people marching in Iowa’s capital chanting slogans such as, “I Can’t Breathe” and “No Justice, No Peace.”
The crowd then knelt on a bridge, briefly blocking traffic. Floyd’s death in Minneapolis after being detained by police sparked looting there and protests across the United States.
On Friday, police in riot gear pushed up against a group of Des Moines protesters after people started throwing bricks.
Governor Kim Reynolds and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie released the following statements on last night’s protests and violence that occurred in downtown Des Moines:
Governor Kim Reynolds:
“The unsettling and criminal act of violence that robbed George Floyd of his rights and his life was unconscionable and must be met with swift justice. As Iowans, it is right for us to react in different ways, from sadness to outrage. But it is never right to react with violence."
“The violence that happened last night in Des Moines undermines the message of change and hope that so many seek. A thousand people gathered to exercise their right to protest and to speak their mind. It was a powerful message. But the lawless actions of a few drowned out that message."
“I am grateful for the swift response, purposeful restraint and commitment to cooperation consistently shown by Iowa’s law enforcement officers. Thank you for showing unwavering bravery, professionalism, and demonstrating your deep ties to the community that all of you are sworn to defend and protect."
“Respectful, peaceful dialogue is who we are as Iowans, and violence doesn’t address injustice or solve problems. We respect our neighbors, cherish our community, follow the rule of law, and that is how we will move forward together. Change won’t happen overnight, but a respectful and peaceful dialogue will bring action and progress.”
Mayor Frank Cownie:
“This was a difficult and challenging night for the City of Des Moines. What began as a peaceful rally for many escalated into needless violence on our streets. Fortunately, no one suffered serious injuries, however, as we’ve seen in the light of day there was damage to nearby businesses, cars and property."
“Like hundreds of other Des Moines residents, I attended last night’s rally. It was peaceful and powerful as it was intended. It had a purpose. Unfortunately for some, that wasn’t acceptable and they took matters into their own hands. Bringing violence to our streets and endangering others."
“We understand the raw emotions facing our cities and the country surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. What happened there was horrific and unacceptable. We can’t undo what happened there, but we can have an impact on what happens here in our community, and how we move forward."
“I want to thank the Des Moines Police Department for their heroic efforts last night. Their professionalism was on display and beyond reproach. I also would like to thank the men and women from other law enforcement agencies who arrived on our streets and provided assistance and to Representative Ako Abdul-Samad and the community leaders who talked to protesters and assisted police in easing tensions. Des Moines is grateful for what they did.”