The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 11, 2014

Peace group attacks deputy

FAIRFIELD — An angry mob, broken windows and thrown rocks interrupted the pursuit of world peace Tuesday.

Concerned security officers called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office around 6 a.m. Guards were going to be removing one of their participants from “The Pandit Project,” a peace program near Invincible America Drive. A group of more than 50 participants was there near the van, supporting their peer.

“We were there for the safety of the public,” Jefferson County’s chief deputy, Bart Richmond, told the Courier.

According to a detailed press release from the sheriff’s department, the crowd became “increasingly agitated and resorted to throwing rocks at security and sheriff’s personnel.”

As the van began to leave, a large group of “Pandits,” police say, ran toward the front gate. The van was able to get out. The angry crowd, now estimated by authorities to number 70 protesters, knocked down a gate at 170th Street and began walking east, blocking the road.

The group’s website describes a goal of using meditation and related, “scientifically confirmed” techniques in order to bring world peace. Pandits are brought in to help achieve that goal through full-time meditation. William Goldstein, the dean of Global Development and general counsel for Maharishi University of Management, answered questions Tuesday. The group has been there for years, and this incident is unique, he said.

“A Vedic Pandit who was part of the group on the Iowa Vedic Pandit campus … was being escorted off the premises … for internal disciplinary reasons. A large group of this Pandit’s friends were apparently upset at this decision by the Pandit administration and attempted to block his transport.”

The sheriff’s release said the officer attempted to divert the largest part of the group back to their complex, but was “unable to do so.”

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