URBANDALE, Iowa (AP) — Eighteen protesters connected to the nationwide Occupy movement were arrested Saturday outside the presidential campaign headquarters of Republicans Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Local police in suburban Des Moines, Iowa, say the 16 adults and two juveniles were arrested for trespass, a simple misdemeanor. Most were released later Saturday.
Dozens of demonstrators massed outside the office where Bachmann had come to rally staff and make calls to potential caucus-goers. Campaign security told the protesters not to approach the office.
Urbandale police Lt. Kent Knopf said the 10 Occupy demonstrators were arrested, handcuffed and taken away in squad cars from Bachmann’s office after they ignored security, who called police.
Bachmann did not come outside of the building, but she laughed off the disruption. “The people who are outside are the president’s re-election advance team,” she told reporters and others inside the office.
One young demonstrator, a 16-year-old high school student who was among those arrested in front of Bachmann’s office, said she wished the candidate had come out and heard her concerns about the cost of higher education, the war in Afghanistan and the national debt.
The protesters moved on to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign office, where no arrests were reported, and then on to Gingrich’s office, where five more arrests were made. The demonstration shifted to Santorum’s office, where three more were arrested.
Hundreds of Occupy activists from at least 10 states were expected to participate in a “People’s Caucus” in Des Moines as the Jan. 3 caucuses near. The activists are promising to interrupt candidates at events and camp out at their Iowa campaign offices.
The congresswoman from Minnesota is far back in public opinion polls as the first vote in the Republican nominating season begins, but insisting that a surprise is coming on Tuesday.
“I’m believing in a miracle because I know the one who gives miracles,” she said in an interview being taped for ABC News.
Bachmann didn’t venture outside the Des Moines-area on Saturday; her only public event on Sunday is an appearance at the Oskaloosa church where she has the pastor’s support.
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