With protests continuing, Iowa City Mayor leads message to discourage vandalism, violence

Updated: Jun. 4, 2020 at 7:53 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Protests in eastern Iowa and across the country have mostly been peaceful, outside of one late Wednesday night in Iowa City.

Around 11 p.m. Wednesday, protesters were walking down Dubuque St. toward Interstate 80. A line of law enforcement officers met the protesters to block them from entering the interstate. The protesters locked arms and kept approaching. Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague said Thursday officers, at the lead of the Iowa State Patrol, threw flash bangs and into the crowd to disperse them.

Teague said he and many other of his fellow council members and other area leaders will participate in Thursday night’s protest in an effort to hear concerns face-to-face- but the common theme among many in Iowa City is to keep things peaceful without vandalism or violence.

For Thomas Rienier, a Vietnam War Veteran who has lived in Iowa City for more than 20 years, he pays a lot of attention to the stars and stripes of the flag. He says some protesters ripped his flag off his truck Wednesday night.

“So I went after them with the flag pole and got the flag back, and then they started wrestling with me, trying to get away for about five minutes," Rienier said. "Just pulling on me, pushing me, insulting me.”

Rienier said he has no issues with the protests, saying he encourages it.

“I love it," Rienier said. "That’s what we died for in Vietnam and every war- for the flag and their freedom. To do what needs to be done.”

But after his flag was ripped off, his truck was vandalized with spray paint, including the letters “KKK” painted on the hood.

Rienier said: “What right do they have do that? Because I’m mad? Well, I wasn’t mad last night, I felt sorry for them because of so much disrespect.”

Tensions from Wednesday night’s protest grew throughout the night; it started peacefully, and ended loudly when a series of flash bangs and tear gas were sent into a sea of protesters. It was Wednesday night’s ending, that prompted city leaders Thursday to take action.

“I have to let people know within our community that the protesters, if you’re looking at the acts that they’re doing and you leave it at that, you are missing the message,” Teague said.

Teague said between the protest Thursday and other events, they want to encourage dialogue.

“We are tired of being left out and at the table of policies and procedures that does not work in our best interest,” Teague said.

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