DES MOINES, Iowa — Dozens with Des Moines Black Lives Matter demanded a revolution Monday.
“We are out here to make noise and educate and bring the community together, essentially to advocate for the freedom of our friend and political prisoner,” said Des Moines BLM organizer Matthew Bruce.
The group awaited an afternoon bond hearing for BLM supporter Viet Tran. The 21-year-old is charged with unauthorized dissemination of intelligence data on July 2 after a protest the previous day at the Iowa State Capitol. Bruce said, “They are suppressing First Amendment activity. They are suppressing Black voices. Specifically, they are suppressing civil rights.”
Police say he shared an intelligence bulletin with a local news station that a separate BLM supporter,
Alexandria Dea, took from a police officer’s pocket. Dea was released on bond the same day, but Tran remains jailed. “We are in a moment of COVID-19 where these jails are not safe places to be,” said Bruce.
Polk County court documents claim Tran’s time in jail is because of a probation violation related to a March 2019 assault. That is when police say Tran hit a man over the head multiple times with a liquor bottle. “Bond is supposed to be an agreement that this person is going to behave in a respectable way while they are awaiting trial. We have the money ready,” Bruce said.
Despite a GoFundMe account raising over $21,000 for Tran’s release, his hearing had to be rescheduled. Bruce says there was an issue with a probation officer’s paperwork. “His probation officer continues to refuse to do his paper. It is the probation office using that part of the system to hold him captive,” alleged Bruce.
Prosecutors also say Tran should remain behind bars because of a social media post where he requested people burn down WHO 13 and KCCI news stations with gas and matches. “If this is a probation violation issue, why is that not being handled with his probation office? Why is it being handled in the court system instead?” asked Bruce.
The group says Tran’s absence is only fueling their cause to fight for racial justice. “If you are going to arrest people to silence them, we are going to bring 60 more in their place,” Bruce said.
Tran’s rescheduled bond hearing is set for July 23. Dea has an arraignment set for Aug. 31.