Sycamore Mall: Stifling Dissent?

According to the Press Citizen Bob Vander Plaats stressed Family & Faith at his visit to the Pizza Ranch in Sycamore Mall Wednesday.

What the P-C failed to mention was that the Sycamore Mall had Iowa City Police asked people who oppose Vander Platts’ conservative agenda to leave, under threat of criminal trespass, despite the fact that said protestor were orderly and respectful. “Few protesters were present at Vander Plaats’ stop in Iowa City, though several police officers were on hand outside the mall.” the P-C article states.   I don’t know how many people took it upon themselves to show up in opposition to Vander Plaats, but anyone who looked like they might disagree with Vander Plaats was barred from the Pizza Ranch & the Mall.

According to Michelle Higley (in a post to Facebook):

Went to Sycamore mall to check out the Vander Plaats thing. Bought a drink, was about to asked questions about opposing views to a police officer and a mall management person and was asked to leave even though i was a patron. Was threatened with being arrested with criminal trespass, if you can believe that. Was told, and I quote, ” they are telling you to leave through us and if you do not we will cite you with criminal trespass” Me: “for asking questions? and who is they?” Cop: “Mall Management.”

The mall management [asked us to leave] through the Iowa City Police, based on assumptions, because we made no stance on whether or not we were there to support or protest. He even admitted (the police man) that he was making an assumption about me and my friends when he asked us to leave, while threatening us.

… the news team that was there … KCRG, were asked to leave before they were allowed to speak to anyone who opposed Vander Plaats, from what i understood from the news guy. He said said they were going to have to go to the ped mall to talk to people who opposed.

Epistemic Closure much?

I can’t claim there’s any big scandal here; the Sycamore Mall is private property, and they can decide who can and can’t be in the Mall at their discretion.   But I also think that people in Iowa City should be aware that the Sycamore Mall management seemed particularly keen not to allow anyone to challenge Bob Vander Plaats on his political views.  People should know that Vander Plaats and the founder of the Pizza Ranch chain, Adrie Groeneweg, went to high school together, and that Groeneweg contributed money to Vander Plaats’ campaign for Governor.

Far be it from me to advocate anyone boycott Sycamore Mall, or Pizza Ranch, for excluding any hint of dissent from the Vander Plaats visit.  I would never suggest that people who support marriage equality and gay rights should make their displeasure known to the Mall Management & Pizza Ranch.   I would never go so far as to suggest that there are many other fine Pizza Restaurants in Iowa City where you can look as gay as you damn well please, and they’ll thank you kindly for your patronage.

I’m just saying.