Man Arrested At Protest In Des Moines Acquitted Of Charge

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A man arrested last spring during a protest in Des Moines calling attention to racial injustice has been acquitted of a misdemeanor count of failure to disperse.

A judge on Thursday found Daniel Butts, 33, of Des Moines, not guilty of the count, saying prosecutors had not proved that Butts violated the law, the Des Moines Register reported.

Prosecutors had argued that Butts was among those in an area where violence had broken out who failed to leave after police ordered the crowd to disperse. But Butts and his attorney offered video showing Butts had moved across the street from the area into a store parking lot were shoppers were still present and not rounded up by police.

“The chaos wasn’t on our side,” Butts said in court. “We were just protesting.”

Butts also referred to himself in the video as a “reporter” and a “street reporter” who was recording the protest, which was held May 31 at Merle Hay mall days after the death of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man who was declared dead after a white officer put his knee on his neck for about nine minutes.

The acquittal comes less than a month after a Polk County jury acquitted Des Moines Register journalist Andrea Sahouri of misdemeanor charges of failure to disperse and interference with official acts. Sahouri was pepper-sprayed and arrested by police while covering the same protest at which Butts was arrested.