Iowa Troopers Arrest BLM Activist as Group Rallies Against Bills Increasing Protest-Related Penalties

A Black Lives Matter activist was taken into custody inside the Iowa State Capitol on Thursday after protesters stormed the building to urge lawmakers to reject legislation they oppose.

Police arrested 18-year-old Josephine Mulvihill, a high school student of Des Moines, and charged her with assaulting a police officer, according to a tweet posted by journalist Andy Ngô.

In a criminal complaint obtained by the Des Moines Register, the officer who arrested Mulvihill, identified as Iowa State Patrol Trooper Dylan Hernandez, said she pushed his arm in order to get his attention after trying to obtain the names and badge numbers of him and a fellow trooper.

A flyer that was posted by Black Lives Matter in order to invite activists to the protest and reject at least four proposals was posted on Twitter, claiming the state is passing “racist and dangerous bills.”

Dozens of activists gathered at the government building to oppose the bills that include Senate File 476, which passed the state Senate in March and now sits in the House. The bill is intended to strengthen “qualified immunity” for law enforcement officers.

The second legislation the activists rallied against is Senate File 534, which seeks to raise penalties for protest-related crimes, as well as give immunity to the driver of a vehicle, “who is exercising due care,” and accidentally hits a protester or rioter blocking the traffic on a public street or is unlawfully assembling.

Other bills opposed by the activists are House File 802, which will limit diversity and inclusion lessons that teach “divisive concepts” such as that Iowa is “fundamentally or systematically racist or sexist,” as well as Senate File 479, which seeks to withhold state funds from cities that defund police budgets.

In the video posted on Twitter by Ngô, the protesters are heard shouting popular slogans by Marxist groups like “no police” before Trooper Hernandez forces Mulvihill to the ground and arrests her.

Troopers are then seen clashing with the activists as Mulvihill is getting escorted out of the building before being put into the passenger seat of a police vehicle.

Angelina Ramirez, who co-organized the April 8 event named “Advocates for Social Justice,” claims state lawmakers passing these bills don’t care about Iowans of color.

She told Iowa Public Radio, “I’m telling you from firsthand exposure to the legislators that are passing these bills—they won’t care about their Black and brown constituents unless they’re forced to. Unless they’re pressured to.”

Majority of Americans Against ‘Defunding the Police’

According to a poll released in March, only 18 percent of Americans support slashing funding to the police.

Another 58 percent of respondents said they oppose the “defund the police” movement, which is often synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the Ipsos/USA Today survey.

Just 28 percent of black respondents and 34 percent of respondents who identify as Democrats support the movement to cut police funding, in addition to 67 percent of white respondents and 84 percent of Republican ones.

“Don’t defund the police department. We need them here to keep law and order,” Kevin Hayworth, 66, of Garner, Iowa, told USA Today . “We need our police department just as they are.”

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.