Most charges against lead Iowa City protester dropped

Mazin Mohamedali, who was a constant voice in the first week of protests in Iowa City, will only face one charge of disorderly conduct as the result of a plea deal.


Jake Maish

Organizer Mazin Mohamedali speaks to a crowd from the steps of the Old Capitol on Thursday, June 4 in Iowa City before beginning a march to support the Black Lives Matter movement and protest police brutality. Everyone met on the Pentacrest at 7 p.m. and then heard a handful of speeches before starting.

Caleb McCullough, Summer Editor

Mazin Mohamedali, a lead protester in Iowa City who was recently arrested on charges stemming from his action at protests, will see five of the six charges leveled against him dropped, according to a press release from his lawyers.

Mohamedali was arrested by Iowa City Police June 7 and charged with violation of probation, disorderly conduct, and unlawful assembly. University of Iowa Police also introduced charges of fifth-degree criminal mischief, second-degree criminal mischief — a felony — and criminal trespass.

Lawyers for Mohamedali have reached a plea deal with Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness that will have Mohamedali plead guilty to a simple misdemeanor of disorderly conduct. The charge is for obstructing a public way, connected to his presence at a protest on June 3, the night law enforcement officers used tear gas and flash-bangs on protesters on Dubuque Street.

Mohamedali will be moving to the Hope House, a residential confinement facility in Coralville, in the coming days. Mohamedali was ordered to the Hope House in March as part of a probation violation agreement in connection with a second-degree robbery conviction from 2018.

Aaron Page, an attorney for Mohamedali, said the plea deal was reached after several conversations with the county attorney about the context of Mohamedali’s actions.

“It’s not ideal, his attorneys thought all of it should go away,” Page said. “There were some things the county insisted on. Mazin is not remotely ashamed of the fact that he was out marching. He was okay just moving forward quickly with this arrangement.”

Iowa City has been the site of more than two weeks of protests, led by the Iowa Freedom Riders, who outlined 12 demands of the Iowa City City Council, including dropping charges against protesters. On Tuesday, City Council passed a resolution committing to many of the demands.

“My conviction is a small price to pay for the dividends that our movement has already brought in the City of Iowa City,” Mohamedali was quoted as saying through his lawyers in the press release. “I am incredibly pleased that our community has recognized our concerns and outlined a concrete plan of action to improve the lives of people of color in Iowa City, which I believe directly resulted from our non-violent protests.”

According to a June 11 memo from Iowa City staff, 15 people were charged with various offenses related to protesting between May 30 and June 3.

In the press release, Rockne Cole, another attorney for Mohamedali, said he hopes no other Iowa City protesters see unlawful assembly or felony charges.

“Everyone recognizes the importance of the conversation that the protests and recent events are forcing on our broader community right now,” he said. “We all extremely pleased that Iowa City Council has heard their message and committed to intense efforts to make changes that improve the lives of people of color throughout Iowa City.”

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