By: Tyler Kingkade for Patch
Police arrested 17 Occupy protesters, including a child, at the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters and Ron Paul's presidential campaign office on Thursday in an on-going week of demonstrations around the Iowa caucuses.
A dozen of the approximately 50 protesters demonstrating at the IDP headquarters at 5661 Fleur Drive were arrested for trespassing on Thursday afternoon.
One of them was a 14-year old student at Callanan Middle School, Frankie Hughes. Frankie said she's been arrested three times before at protests, including on Oct. 9 when Occupy Des Moines first set up an encampment at the statehouse grounds. Police allowed her father to come get her and drive her to the juvenile detention center.
"I'm actually very proud of her," said Frankie's father, Dan Hughes, adding that he's opposed to similar foreign policy issues as his daughter.
Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach was on hand with Des Moines Police throughout the evening, while a few staffers were inside the building.
"We knew they were coming ... we met them outside in the parking a lot around 3:10 p.m.," Sterzenbach said.
He said they passed along a constituency concern and some other information about their grievances, including a list of demands for President Obama. The demands included:
- Ease the mortgage crisis by ending foreclosures
- Stop accepting campaign contributions from Wall Street
- Restore civil liberties by ending indefinite detentions
- Step up as President and start listening to the issues of the 99 percent instead of the issues of Wall Street
Sterzenbach told Patch they offered to arrange a meeting in the future to listen to their concerns and have offered to send the state Chair Sue Dvorsky to visit their encampment on the east end of downtown Des Moines.
They only called the police when the protesters decided to barricade themselves around each door, preventing staff from coming or going.
Later in a statement, Sterzenbach said, "As we have told this group previously, an occupation of our office is an unacceptable course of action. Not only does it interfere with the important work that our volunteers and staff do to engage Iowans in the political process, but physically blocking our staff from entering or exiting the building sets a very dangerous precedent. It’s unfortunate that some members chose to face arrest after we took time to listen to their concerns."
Occupy Des Moines organizers said when they were told the party leadership was not willing to listen to the protesters until after the Iowa Caucuses the demonstrators sat down in front of the doors of the office and pledged to stay.
Party officials said meeting with them in the next week was just not feasible because of a busy work load around preparations for the caucuses on Jan. 3.
Most of the protesters arrested Thursday were from Iowa, although some visiting Occupiers from New York and Louisiana were also among those taken into custody.
Police made the decision to keep press, as well as around 35 Occupy Des Moines supporters, back almost completely off the property.
Earlier in the day, Iowa headquarters in Ankeny, where they protested his stance on women's reproductive rights. This follows campaign office and in front of a Wells Fargo location.