Residents in Iowa City were concerned that police may have been using fabricated or inapplicable charges to arrest and charge protesters while using unnecessary force to make arrests. 

Protesters steal sensitive information and share it to be broadcast on local TV

The incident began when officers were patrolling a protest near the area of Iowa’s state capitol on July 1st. A 26 year old female took a document from an officer’s pocket, which has details about suspects wanted for arson and other crimes from the protests in the prior weeks. Three protesters were arrested at this time near the capitol building. Another protester later obtained the same document and broadcasted it on live television during an interview, despite a warning on the document’s first page that it was for law enforcement purposes only and not to be shared. 

A local official with Iowa City’s police department said that these kinds of documents typically contain driver’s license numbers and other sensitive pieces of information. The suspect who published it was charged with a felony related to illegal dissemination of intelligence, which carries up to a five year sentence. 

The law has only been used one other time in the last ten years, and many question if it is applicable to the current situation. Apparently, these kinds of laws have never been applied to anyone outside of law enforcement, but local government officials admit that this is a new and unique situation, which they do not think has ever happened before. The reporter who interviewed the protesters and broadcast the document was not charged, adding further confusion to the situation. 

The reporter and local prosecutor assigned to the case did not respond to a request for comments regarding the situation. The only other known case of the law being used was when a former Wayne County police officer was charged related to leaked information from arrest reports related to drunk driving and drug charges. 

Arrests without proper justification

Any incident involving false arrest or retaliation by an officer can cause severe damage to a person’s reputation and ability to make a living. For example, it is common for police around the country to merely say that someone was resisting arrest without any underlying crime. After the person is arrested, they may lose their job and suffer other kinds of harm even if the charges are eventually dropped. A person may also be physically harmed and injured if the arresting officers use force inappropriately or deploy weapons such as tasers or pepper spray. 

Talk to a local attorney in Iowa City

If you have been hurt by the police during a protest or any other accident, there is legal help available from personal injury lawyers in Iowa City. To get more information, contact:

Eells and Tronvold Law Offices 

1921 51st Street NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-2400