Iowa City protest leader arrested (Updated)

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Protesters form a circle in an Iowa City intersection during a march on June 3, 2020. — photo courtesy of Hannah Green

The original version of this story incorrectly reported the offense for which Mazin Mohamedali is serving probation.

One of the leaders of the protests in Iowa City was arrested on Sunday night on charges of unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct–obstructing a public way and violating the terms of his probation agreement that resulted from an earlier arrest.

Iowa City police officers arrested Mazin Mohamedali, a leader of the group that has named itself the Iowa Freedom Riders, at 6:45 p.m. on Sunday, the Gazette reported. The Iowa City Police Department has not yet responded to questions regarding the arrest, according to Vanessa Miller, the Gazette reporter who broke the news.

The charges stem from the protest on Wednesday, June 3. That night’s protest ended when law enforcement officers in riot gear under the command of the Iowa State Patrol assembled on Dubuque Street and fired rounds of tear gas into the crowd of hundreds of protesters on Dubuque Street. The officers were blocking attempts by the protesters to march to I-80.

Prior to reaching the line of officers on Dubuque Street, the protesters had marched through the streets of Iowa City, stopping at several major intersections and forming circles that blocked traffic in every direction.

The unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct charges are both simple misdemeanors. Mohamedali was on probation following a plea deal in 2018, in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery. According to court records, this the second time Mohamedali has been charged with violating the term of his probation.

The Iowa Freedom Riders did not have a protest scheduled on Sunday. There is a protest scheduled for Monday night.

Mohamedali, who was taken to the Johnson County Jail after his arrest, is scheduled to appear before a judge on Monday morning for a bail hearing.

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