Public Safety

Black Lives Matter protester arrested after shining laser beam into officers' eyes, police say

IOWA CITY — A Des Moines Black Lives Matter organizer faces nine felony charges after University of Iowa police officers were injured by a laser light beam during protests Monday night.

Matthew D.C. Bruce, 24, of Iowa City, was near the UI president’s home at Church and Clinton streets during a protest when he was seen by police at 8:28 p.m. shining a laser beam light into officers’ eyes, according to UI Department of Public Safety criminal complaints.

Police said multiple officers were injured and required medical treatment. Police tried but could not apprehend Bruce at the time.

Bruce was seen on the UI Pentacrest around 11:36 p.m., again shining the laser in officers’ eyes. He was arrested by police four minutes later.

Bruce faces nine counts of assault on a peace officer with intent to injure, a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He also faces one count of interference with official acts, a simple misdemeanor.

Bruce has been identified in multiple news reports as an organizer of the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement, a group that has organized protests in Des Moines in the days following the death of George Floyd.

Floyd died in custody in May after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death sparked Black Lives Matter rallies nationwide.

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Two protesters, Daniel T. Galloway, 18, and Marquise J.K. Hubbard, 19, both of Cedar Rapids, face charges of assault after hurling full water bottles at bystanders while participating in a protest Saturday night.

On Aug. 21, 45-year-old Michael R. Stepanek of Iowa City attacked protesters with his vehicle, earning him two felony charges, according to police.

Monday was the fourth straight night of protests in Iowa City led by the Iowa Freedom Riders, a group that has organized rallies and worked to enact police reforms in Iowa City since Floyd’s death.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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