Hundreds marched through Iowa City Tuesday night for the “Black Live Matter Black Out Protest” that began at St. Morrison Park at 7 p.m. in Coralville. At least one arrest was made and some protesters were pepper sprayed later in the night. An Iowa City police officer told a small group that an individual had charged police and smashed a window of the Johnson County Health and Human Services building.
Protesters dressed in all black moved around Iowa City landmarks throughout the night, including the Pentacrest, City Hall, Iowa City Police Department, Pedestrian Mall, and the Johnson County Jail before midnight. Protesters spray painted messages and images on streets at intersections, on buildings, and on the Old Capitol at each stop and in between.
A lead protester who carried a speaker throughout the night for protesters to use to amplify their voices said that the protest in Iowa City was not following any sort of set plan after it had left Coralville. At each stop, lead protesters would announce where the crowd would head next.
“We just wanted to go and make a change,” he said. “Get their attention so they realize that this isn’t something locally — we need this to change globally.”
A line of cars packed with protesters either led or followed behind the crowd as it moved throughout Iowa City, some blaring music or honking horns in time to chants that included, “Black Lives Matter” and “George Floyd.” When protesters returned to the Pentacrest to gather and spray paint at around 10 p.m., cars drove up onto the lawn, too.
At the Pentacrest, protest leaders announced that the group would meet again at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Iowa City for another protest. The crowd then headed to the Iowa City Police Station, where a protester in a car encouraged people through a megaphone to stay together and not branch off into smaller groups.
“We’re sticking together, we’re all going home safe tonight,” she said.
The crowd then headed to the Johnson County Courthouse, where they were met by police wearing riot gear. Protesters began chanting, “take it off” and prompting officers to remove the gear. Once the crowd had moved to the Johnson County Jail, police officers temporarily removed riot gear amid chants for them to do so.
Officers followed behind protesters as they continued down Capitol Street to Johnson County Health and Human Services, where an officer told a small group of onlookers that an individual had been arrested after smashing a window of the Health and Human Services building. Police confirmed with The Daily Iowan that pepper spray had been used to disperse the crowd.