Occupy Protesters Arrested At Ron Paul Iowa Campaign Headquarters
By MICHAEL J. CRUMB, Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa -- More than a dozen Occupy protesters have been arrested in Iowa, including a 14-year-old girl, as they target Democrats and Republicans just days ahead of the state's closely watched lead-off presidential caucuses.
Twelve people were arrested Thursday outside the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines. Earlier in the day, five protesters were arrested in nearby Ankeny outside the Iowa campaign headquarters of Republican presidential contender Ron Paul.
Police say the protesters refused to leave both sites when asked, but the arrests were peaceful. The teen was released to her father at the scene in Des Moines.
The Iowa Democratic Party's executive director says he's open to speaking with protesters but blocking the office's entrances was unacceptable.
The protests are part of an Occupy the Caucuses effort that's attracting activists from around the country.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
Five Occupy protesters were arrested Thursday outside the Iowa campaign headquarters of presidential contender Ron Paul as the group continued its protest against Republican candidates and President Barack Obama.
The five were cited with trespassing and later released after they refused repeated requests to leave Paul's campaign office in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny. The action came a day after seven protesters were arrested outside Republican Mitt Romney's Des Moines headquarters, and Occupy spokeswoman Danielle Ryun said more protests, and probably arrests, will come.
"They're all going to get equal play on this," Ryun said. "We are very disillusioned with every candidate."
The protests are part of an Occupy the Caucuses effort launched this week in Des Moines, attracting activists from around the country. Many of them have promised to interrupt campaign activities.
Ryun said the protesters would be going to the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines later Thursday and to other Republican candidate offices Friday.
Eight protesters were arrested at the state Democratic Party offices on Dec. 19. Ryan said protesters would try to get into the offices again Thursday.
Lt. Ben Bowersox, an Ankeny police spokesman, said as many as 15 protesters were at the Paul headquarters. They were told to move to a public sidewalk nearby or face arrest. All but the five moved to the sidewalk.
He said police received a call from a nearby store operator in the strip mall where the Paul office is located.
Ryun said the goal is not to be arrested but since campaign officials won't listen to them, protesters are willing to be arrested to get their message across.
"It would be great if we could show up, issue our concerns and have the candidates acknowledge us and change their platform," she said.
Ryun said the Paul campaign headquarters were locked. By locking their doors, campaigns "are signaling to us that they have become disengaged," Ryun said.
The protest at the Paul headquarters was aimed at his proposal to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency if elected.
A telephone message left for a Paul campaign spokesman was not returned.
The Occupy movement began in New York and has spread across the country. Activists generally protest the growing gap between rich and poor and corporate influence over government.
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