On Sunday, police arrested 20-year-old Mazin Mohamedali on simple misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, as well as a violation of probation. On Monday, Judge Deborah Minot ordered him to be jailed without bond, as reported by the Associated Press. How did all of this come about? Mohamedali has reportedly been a lead figure in the protests against police brutality and justice for George Floyd in Iowa City, Iowa. He was arrested over his alleged role in a protest that occurred on Wednesday, June 3, involving several hundred demonstrators. At that protest, police used flash-bang grenades and tear gas in order to break up the crowd.
Caleb McCullough at the Daily Iowan describes Mohamedali as a “public face and constant voice” for the Floyd protests. Mohamedali is reportedly a member of the Iowa Freedom Riders group. On Sunday, the group shared a list of its demands online, according to the AP. Like many activists, the group calls for a funding cut to the Iowa City Police Department, with the angle being that the money could be used for intervention programs instead. The group also wants to get officers out of schools, lift the local curfew, drop charges against protesters, and decriminalize possession and use of cannabis under 40 grams.
On Saturday evening, Mohamedali reportedly told a crowd outside the Old Capitol building: “Tell your friends if they care about you they’ll be here on Monday. They will help you on Monday. They’ll be ready for war Monday.” According to the AP, a Department of Corrections probation officer referenced that quote, saying Mohamedali “poses a threat to the community and local law enforcement.”
As reported by The Gazette, the June 3 protests seemingly escalated when demonstrators approached the I-80 interstate to block traffic. That’s when officers in riot gear used flash-bang grenades and tear gas; according to the paper, the department has since preemptively shut down the interstate and allowed people to demonstrate there.
Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague said “we are not OK with the use of agents” against peaceful protesters. He also said he was “heartbroken” that officers used chemical munitions against demonstrators that evening.
The mayor also led Black Lives Matter chants the day after the incident.
Rockne Cole, Mohamedali’s attorney, said the unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct charges raise “significant constitutional concerns,” according to the AP.
Here are some clips reportedly from earlier that same evening.
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