- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A member of an activist group pushing increased minimum wage and a wage theft bill was charged with simple assault for grabbing the arm of a lawmaker, Capitol law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Rep. Greg Forristall, a Republican from Macedonia, reported an incident on the first floor of the Capitol on Tuesday.

The Iowa State Patrol division responsible for Capitol security interviewed Forristall and House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and filed the charge against Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member Joe Fagan on Wednesday, said Iowa State Patrol Capt. Mark Logsdon, commander of the district that provides Capitol security.

He said it appears Forristall was caught off guard by about 30 members of Iowa CCI who had held a rally in the Capitol Tuesday morning. Forristall attempted to duck into a meeting room to avoid a confrontation and Fagan grabbed his arm to pull him back, Logsdon said.

“He was visibly shaken and definitely very upset,” Logsdon said of Forristall.

Fagan is scheduled to appear in court March 20 on the simple misdemeanor charge.

Fagan did not immediately respond to a message left with Iowa CCI.

Ana Mancebo, an organizer with the group, said in a statement there was no assault.

“We believe in peaceful non-violent protest, as well as community organizing and education, as a way to raise up issues we care about,” she said. “We do not condone or engage in violent behavior, and that’s the case here. No member of CCI Action fund assaulted Rep. Forristall.”

The group said it will fight the charges.

The organization is pushing for a bill that would require businesses to tell workers when they’re hired how much they’ll be paid and reveal any paycheck deductions.

The wage theft bill passed the Senate and is in Forristall’s House Labor Committee, where he assigned it to a subcommittee he says will not meet again this legislative session, which kills the bill for this year.

Logsdon said passions flare on controversial issues but it’s uncommon for the debate to turn physical.

“We try to maintain a good environment for people to get their voices heard but an environment where people can reasonably expect not to feel threatened,” he said

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