Iowa Freedom Riders leader Mazin Mohamedali reaches plea deal with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office

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

Attorneys for Mazin Mohamedali, one of the leaders of the Iowa Freedom Riders, announced on Friday afternoon their client will enter into a plea deal with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office. In return for Mohamedali pleading guilty to a single simple misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, other charges recently filed against him will be dropped by Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness.

“Mazin accepts this disorderly conduct conviction as a badge of honor in marching without a permit against police brutality and systemic discrimination against people of color,” Attorney Rockne Cole said in a written statement. Cole, along with attorney Aaron Marr Page, has represented Mohamedali following his arrest on June 7.

Iowa City Police Department officers arrested Mohamedali on charges of unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct–obstructing a public way and for violating the terms of his probation agreement that resulted from an earlier arrest. The unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct charges were related to the protest march on June 3 that Mohamedali helped lead. That march ended when law enforcement officers under the command of the Iowa State Patrol used flash-bang grenades and tear gas against the protesters as they attempted to march to I-80.

During a hearing the morning after his arrest, a judge said Mohamedali could have been released on his own recognizance for the misdemeanor charges, but ordered him held without bail, because the Iowa Department of Corrections submitted a petition to the court stating it was seeking to have Mohamedali’s probation revoked.

The judge ordered Mohamedali to remain in jail until he can be transferred to Hope House, a residential confinement center in Coralville.

Mohamedali has been on probation since 2018 as part of a plea deal, in which he was sentenced to three years of probation in exchange for pleading guilty to a charge of second-degree robbery. According to court records, this is the second time Mohamedali has been charged with violating the terms of his probation. In December 2019, he was charged with contempt of court, which was a violation. He was also arrested in January for felony possession of a controlled substance, after police discovered he was in possession of marijuana. That case remains open.

The University of Iowa Department of Public Safety also filed charges against Mohamedali related to events on the night of June 5 and the early morning hours of June 7. The UI police alleged Mohamedali was involved in spray-painting a campus sidewalk and damaging a fence that had been put up around the Old Capitol Building. Those charges were dismissed in the plea deal announced on Friday.

Mohamedali remains in custody due to the charge he violated his probation. “In the coming days, Mr. Mohahedali will be entering the HOPE House facility,” according to his attorneys’ statement.

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