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Occupy Des Moines may lose its permit tonight

A new round of confrontation between demonstrators in Des Moines and law enforcement may erupt Friday night when a temporary permit allowing for 24-hour occupation of grounds on the west side of the Iowa Capitol expires.

Participants and supporters of the Occupy Des Moines movement — a loosely-knit group that generally objects to perceived ongoing political and economic inequalities — are currently meeting to discuss a possible path ahead if their permit, state officials say was only issued for a three-day time period, expires at 11 p.m. Individuals who have been providing outreach for the demonstrators are reaching out to their networks today, requesting that supporters contact Gov. Terry Branstad’s office regarding the permit and also meet at “People’s Park” at 6 p.m. for more discussion.

As they have previously attempted, demonstrators hope to attain a “critical mass” of activists in the park at 11 p.m. to deter possible arrests or other action from the Iowa State Patrol, which is tasked with upholding order on the grounds. Such a move, however, was unsuccessful Sunday night when several dozen demonstrators were arrested for trespassing.

Caleb Hunter, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, told reporter Rob Boshart that the agency has typically held a policy of not allowing groups to hold a permit for statehouse grounds activities for a period longer than three days.

Demonstrators have erected several tents on the property since receiving their permit and, by accounts on social networking sites, have no intention of ending their activities.

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