Iowans have been banned from the Iowa Capitol Complex, blocking their fundamental constitutional rights. So we sued.
In July, a number of Des Moines BLM protesters were rallying to end felony disenfranchisement in Iowa near the statehouse when police showed up to the until-then peaceful protest and started arresting people with no explanation. Chaos broke out, and a number of people were arrested. They were also told they were banned from the Iowa State Capitol complex – some for six months, and others for a year.
But the Iowa State Patrol had no authority to ban the protesters and followed no law in doing so. You can't ban citizens from exercising their right to free speech and their right to petition their government for months at a time just because you arrested them.
So on Monday, we sued.
"We are proud to represent five Des Moines BLM supporters who have been banned from the Capitol. You can't block people's right to protest in the future simply because you don't like them or think they've behaved in a way you disagree with in the past," says ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen. "That is the worst kind of free speech violation – a prior restraint. The state has violated our clients' rights to assemble outside the Capitol and advocate for critical reforms to address systemic racism against Black people in Iowa."