Sheriff's office seeks charges in Tanglewood gate incident
Updated: Jun 8
Above, without gates at the entrances of Tanglewood Lakes on Friday, vehicles were able to move through the gates without stopping. Below, protesters cut through hardware meant to keep the gates operating. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
LA CYGNE – The Linn County Sheriff’s Office reported on Friday, May 19, that it has filed affidavits with the Linn County Attorney’s office requesting 26 felony charges and 13 misdemeanor charges in connection with an organized protest by Tanglewood Lakes residents in rural La Cygne.
According to Sheriff Kevin Friend, the county attorney is reviewing the affidavits and will make the decision on which individuals will be charged in the case.
The charges are based on videos posted on social media on an event that happened on Thursday, May 18, when protesters gathered at the entrances to the gated community and removed the gates to each entrance in protest to Tanglewood Lakes Owners Association (TLOA) policies about free access to the community.
According to the report, two deputies arrived at about 6:30 p.m. that evening to find protesters removing that gates as well as components that operated them.
Those gates remained down Friday evening as vehicles passed through the entry points, with many of them driving through as if knowing the gates were not there and others slowing down unaware that they would not be forced to stop.
Because the deputies were “grossly outnumbered,” much of the damage had already been done, and the otherwise peaceful protesters did not respond to deputies attempts to communicate with them, the deputies simply identified many of the subjects and did not try to interfere with their work, according the sheriff.
“It is the belief of the deputies that aggressive action would have resulted in violence or injury to citizens or themselves,” Friend said in a statement. However, he added that protesters did not make any threats of violence during the event.
On Thursday night, a deputy was stationed on watch at the lake development in case any other incident occurred, but it was quiet.
“Several callers this morning would suggest to the Sheriff’s Office that we should have stopped the incident at any cost,” said Friend in a statement release on Friday. “My response to this is that the incident was nearly complete upon our arrival.
“We have collected evidence and identified many people involved. If we would have taken aggressive measures to stop the incident, injury would have certainly occurred. In today’s society we have trained to de-escalate situations without blood shed or injury to the citizens that we serve.”
Apparently the people who posted videos of the removal of the gates suggested that the sheriff’s office was on the side of the protesters and that Friend was warned in advance of the event.
“We do not take sides, and the presenter in the video did send me a text message at 5:28 p.m. telling me that the gates would be removed,” Friend said in his statement. “I did not see this text message until 6:22 p.m. when I received a phone call from my dispatcher telling me of the events ongoing at Tanglewood. My office was not notified of upcoming events through any proper channels, such as calling Communications to make a report of the event.” – Roger Sims, Journal staff