For decades, Iowa City has been one of the most active locations in the state for demonstrations. Iowa City is consistently an epicenter of powerful human rights, climate action, and racial justice movements and the City is firmly committed to supporting and ensuring the safety of all peaceful demonstrations no matter the issue.

This environment has been proudly sustained through trust and collaboration between the City and the public, which includes the City’s long-standing permitting process. The permitting process ensures demonstrations can be carried out safely while maintaining public access for all. This is done through collaborative event planning that diverts traffic away from a designated protest area, provides emergency responders with a planned, efficient detour to area hospitals, and detours public transportation for residents who rely on the 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 three days in advance of the event on forms provided by the City. The forms 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 under the First Amendment, include the purpose or “content” of the event. Instead, the criteria 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 safe and efficient streets and sidewalks to access area hospitals and public transit routes to work, school, and other basic needs.

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.” The reason for the notice is to address the needs for traffic control, public transportation, and emergency responders.

How to apply for a permit

The Parade and Public Event permit application can be found at

The City appreciates the public’s collaboration to ensure the safety of everyone, and that efficient access to critical destinations is maintained. The City of Iowa City remains steadfast in its dedication to supporting the First Amendment rights of all in our community.

Date of publication

Tuesday, April 20, 2021