Public Safety

Iowa City remind demonstrators of permit process after protesters hit by vehicle

Protesters march along Dubuque Street in Iowa City during a June 4 protest against racial injustice. The Iowa City manag
Protesters march along Dubuque Street in Iowa City during a June 4 protest against racial injustice. The Iowa City manager on Wednesday reminded groups of the need to get permits for marches and demonstrations so public safety measures can be taken to protect demonstrators. The reminder came after a vehicle struck protesters Aug. 21 at Burlington and Gilbert streets. (Nick Rohlman/Iowa City)

IOWA CITY — Iowa City officials are reminding citizens about the importance of obtaining a permit for demonstrations after “multiple” protesters were hit by a vehicle last week.

Iowa City police on Tuesday arrested Michael Stepanek. 45. of Iowa City, in connection with that Aug. 21 incident. Police said Stepanek told officers protesters were in need of an “attitude adjustment.”

City Manager Geoff Fruin on Wednesday outlined the city’s permit process for protests, marches, demonstrations and other large gatherings.

“The city supports freedom of speech and understands that activism is an important element of a just society,” Fruin said in a news release.

“In its role to maintain safety and provide public access to all, the city relies on a permitting process to protect demonstrators and the general public by diverting traffic away from a designated protest area, providing emergency responders with a planned, efficient detour to area hospitals and rerouting transit buses for residents who rely on this service for employment and other basic needs.”

According to the Iowa City Code, any group of 25 or more people that wishes to use city streets and sidewalks in a way that would impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic must obtain a parade/public assembly permit within three days of the event.

The permit asks applicants to provide their desired location or route, expected group size, date and time of the event, and the expected duration. The city cannot ask applicants the purpose of their event, Fruin said.

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Fruin said a permit is not required for “spontaneous events” in response to news or other information becoming public, as long as the event organizers give written notice to the city manager an hour before the event.

Parade and Public Event permit applications can be found at icgov.org/UseOfPublicWays.

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

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