DES MOINES, Iowa. (AP) — A protest at the Iowa Capitol to persuade Gov. Kim Reynolds to restore voting rights to felons turned violent Wednesday during a confrontation between law enforcement officers and some protesters .
The confrontation escalated when police tried to take activists who had been arrested inside the Capitol outside to be taken away. Those activists were charged in connection with a June 20 protest at a grocery store.
KCCI video showed Iowa State Patrol troopers taking some protesters to the ground while others tried to pull authorities off of them. Des Moines police responded and more arrests were made.
Police also used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, KCCI reported.
Police said protesters started the confrontation, but protesters said law enforcement mishandled the situation.
Drake law professor Sally Frank said police made the arrests in the “worst way possible” by “grabbing” protesters in the middle of the protest, rather than trying to talk to them.
“When detectives tried to take prisoners out of the statehouse, the crowd followed them outside and, at the one point, swarmed them and attacked the officers,” Des Moines police Sgt. Paul Parizek said. “It’s probably one of the most violent attacks I’ve seen on police in a long time. They were tackled to the ground. They were ripped off people they were trying to arrest.”
Police said at least 15 people were arrested. Two juveniles also were taken into custody.