August 26, 2020

Following the incident involving a vehicle unlawfully driving through a demonstration on Friday, Aug. 21, the City of Iowa City reminds residents of the long-standing permitting process, which aims to protect the safety of participants and the public.

The City supports freedom of speech and understands that activism is an important element of a just society. In its role to maintain safety and provide public access to all, the City relies on a permitting process, to protect demonstrators and the general public by diverting traffic away from a designated protest area, providing emergency res ponders with a planned efficient detour to area hospitals, and rerouting transit buses for residents who rely on this service for employment and other basic needs.

Use of Public Way and Property permit

Per Section 10-1 of the City Code, any group wishing to use City rights of way (streets/sidewalks) for a march, procession, demonstration or gathering of more than 25 people that necessitates or results in the exclusion of other traffic, whether pedestrian, bicycle or vehicular, must obtain a parade/public assembly permit from the City. An application must be filed at least 3 days in advance of the event on forms provided by the City that require the applicant to identify the proposed location or route, the expected size of the group, the date, time and expected duration of the use and other parameters that will enable an assessment of traffic control and other public safety measures. The criteria do not and cannot by law include the purpose or “content” of the event but rather are focused on the “time, place and manner” logistics to ensure the safety of persons participating in the gathering and members of the public who rely on the safe and efficient use of the streets and sidewalks for employment, healthcare, emergency service, childcare and more.

Spontaneous events

A permit is not required for “Spontaneous events responding to news or affairs coming into public knowledge within three (3) days of such public assembly or parade provided that the organizer thereof gives written notice to the city manager or designee at least one hour prior to such parade or public assembly.” Protests in which planning is possible and occurring are not spontaneous events and require the timely filing of a permit application.

How to apply for a permit