Iowa is to pay five protesters in support of the Black Lives Matter movement $5,000 each to settle a lawsuit after they were banned from the premises of the state Capitol last year, the Associated Press reported.
The State Appeal Board agreed to a recommendation by state lawyers in approving the payments. Police arrested Jalesha Johnson, Louise Bequeaith, Haley Jo Dikkers, Brad Penna and Brandi Ramus July 1, 2020, after they protested at the Capitol and a struggle ensued with law enforcement. Then, they were banned from the Capitol’s property. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa filed a lawsuit on behalf of the five individuals and their lawyer is to receive $45,000 as part of the settlement.
“The attorney general’s office believes this is a fair settlement for the state,” said Assistant State Attorney General Anne Updegraff while speaking to board members.
Iowa is also withdrawing their verbal and written bans so the individuals “may continue to enter and use the Iowa Capitol Complex on the same basis and under the same terms as any other law-abiding member of the public,” the lawsuit settlement stated.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:
The panel voted to settle the lawsuit that alleged the protesters had their constitutional rights violated when they were banned from the state Capitol grounds.
After their arrests, the Iowa State Patrol, which provides security at the Capitol, told the five protesters that legislative leaders ordered them banned from the grounds.
The patrol told them if they returned to the state property around the building, they would be charged with trespassing. Some were banned for six months and others for a year.
The ACLU of Iowa said the ban blocks the individuals’ fundamental constitutional rights of free speech, assembly, right to petition their government, their fundamental freedom of movement and due process.
U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger issued an order in December that prevented enforcement of the ban, concluding it likely violated the protesters’ rights.
The settlement resolves the lawsuit, which named Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens and Iowa State Patrol Lt. Steven Lawrence, Sgt. Tyson Underwood and trooper Durk Pearston.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety also agreed to continue training its officers assigned to the Capitol on areas relating to the First Amendment.
The judge’s preliminary injunction remains in place until the court considers whether to approve the settlement agreement.
ACLU of Iowa declined to comment until after the agreement is approved by the court,
The State Appeal Board, which has responsibility under Iowa law to consider legal claims against the state, includes Iowa Department of Management Director Michael Bousselot, Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and Auditor Rob Sand.
All voted to approve the settlement agreement.
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