Des Moines police arrest dozens after using tear gas

DES MOINES (AP) — Police arrested more than two dozen people after using tear gas to break up a protest and stop vandalism near the Polk County Courthouse in downtown Des Moines.

Live video from WOI-TV showed a small group of people spraying paint on the courthouse and breaking at least one of its first-floor windows Saturday night. Police arrived about 9:40 p.m. and shot tear gas about 10 minutes later, causing what appeared to be about 250 protesters to scatter.

The violent protests in downtown Des Moines followed a peaceful march several hours earlier to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Like many of the Floyd protests around the country, the day of peaceful demonstration devolved into unrest after the sun went down.

Demonstrators gathered Saturday night outside of Des Moines’ police headquarters before they marched west over the Des Moines River to the courthouse and later toward the Iowa state Capitol. Police also used tear gas early Sunday after some people broke into a grocery store in the area.

Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek said more than 25 people were arrested early Sunday after windows were broken at several downtown businesses.

Video from WHO-TV showed dozens of people marching in Des Moines chanting slogans such as, “I Can’t Breathe” and “No Justice, No Peace.” The crowd then knelt on a bridge, briefly blocking traffic.

Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on Monday sparked days of unrest there and protests across the United States. Floyd, who was black and was handcuffed, died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving. Chauvin now faces murder and manslaughter charges. He and the other three officers who were arresting Floyd for suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill were fired the day after Floyd died, but the other three officers haven’t been charged.

Among other things, the Des Moines protesters called for charges against the other three officers.

Community activists and religious leaders were planning a Sunday candlelight vigil and a Monday evening rally outside the Iowa Capitol.