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Des Moines protester acquitted of blocking street last year

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An activist who was acquitted in August of interfering in a protest arrest last year has been acquitted of another charge in which police accused him of blocking a street during a protest.

A judge on Friday found Jaylen Cavil, an organizer for Des Moines’ Black Liberation Movement, not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a public way, the Des Moines Register reported.

Police had argued that organizers didn’t get a permit for the protest on Sept. 22, 2020, in which Cavil, 24, participated. Between 150 and 200 people marched in the protest organized after a nurse at an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facility in Georgia accused it of operating on migrant women without their consent and performing procedures that were medically unnecessary, including hysterectomies.

Police said protesters entered the street, putting themselves and others in danger.

But Magistrate Beth Tigges said there was no evidence that Cavil planned the march or that he blocked traffic. Photos of the protest showed Cavil was on the line between two lanes of traffic and not blocking any vehicle.

A Des Moines Register Analysis found in March that nearly 80 cases related to protests after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer were dismissed or resulted in not-guilty verdicts.

In August, a jury acquitted Cavil of interference with an official act after police said he got in the way of officers trying to arrest another protester during a demonstration last year.

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