Protest case in Iowa City to test new state pentalties

IOWA CITY — An Iowa City protester facing charges for a demonstration that blocked traffic in October has rejected a plea deal and is going to trial.

Tara McGovern of Coralville was one of seven people arrested under the state’s new penalties for protest-related crimes after a protest of a lecture by a California activist who opposes gender transition surgery for minors. “I don’t believe that anybody at that protest did anything wrong. And I don’t want to plead guilty to something that isn’t wrong,” McGovern says.

The Johnson County Attorney’s Office offered plea deals to drop the serious misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges while preserving a simple misdemeanor charge for interfering with police. McGovern says the actions were within the scope of lawful assembly.  “Too quickly these things get swept away and not examined. And then people with less power end up being hurt by these systems,” McGovern says.

McGovern’s trial is scheduled for late February.