City Government

Open Beds or Free Speech?


The governor has changed, the police chief is new, the state police colonel has changed, the mayor has changed, even most of the media reporters have changed.

All that said, there is still the current issue of homeless camping on the state-owned former Ada County Courthouse, just like the OCCUPY BOISE movement did ten years ago. Someone has convinced the legacy media to call homeless folks “unhoused.” That’s like calling a childless couple “unchilded.”

At that time U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill ruled the economic protest was a FREE SPEECH issue. Here is what the judge said of then Gov. Buth Otter’s attempt to evict the OCCUPY protesters:
“Because the reach of the State’s enforcement may exceed the grasp of the statute, this creates the appearance that the state is stretching to suppress the core political message of Occupy Boise – its tents – as presented in a public forum. These circumstances render the State’s enforcement policy of removing Occupy Boise’s tents presumptively invalid under the 1st Amendment.”

In describing Otter’s eviction order for Occupy Boise, Winmill wrote, “Governor Otter’s edict, and the stated intention of the State Police, is to remove Occupy Boise entirely – tents and all. … This creates the appearance that the State is stretching to shut down a political message – a tent city – presented in a public forum.”

While not binding case law, it would seem the same legal arguments for the protest–and inability of government authorities to evict the campers would apply.

Former Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson refused to assist State Police 10 years ago and his message back then is probably being used today, despite explanations that it is state property and not part of Boise City.

Here is the BPD stance in 2012:
“If law enforcement is truly at the front line of safeguarding peoples liberties and rights then we (BPD) have an obligation to speak out and not wait for the courts to tell us they got the law wrong and thus our subsequent actions were wrong as well. For this reason, I have advised the state we will not be participating in any activity associated with the removal of property should it come to that.”

It may be a bit of an oversimplification, but today’s issues pit two legal decisions against each other. The federal court case of Boise vs Martin ruled that Boise could not arrest or ticket homeless folks “camping” on the streets if there was no room at a shelter, Winmill opined the tent city was a first amendment issue rather than a camping issue.

UPDATE 3:30 pm–ISP has issued the following press release:
This morning at 8:00 a.m., Idaho State Police Troopers visited the site where multiple tents are erected on W. Jefferson Street between N. 5th and N. 6th Streets in Boise. The location is state property and subject to Idaho State Code 67-1613. The state is also operating under State Rules for Capitol Mall use under the Idaho Administrative Procedures Act (IDAPA, as managed by the Idaho Department of Administration), and the federal court order Watters v. Otter, 955 F.Supp.2d 1178 (2013). The court order allows symbolic tents but prohibits camping and indicia of camping.

The purpose of the visit was to check for any prohibited items and to check on the welfare of those on-site. Prior to the enforcement action this morning, Troopers confirmed there were beds available at the local shelters.

Troopers have continued to educate those on-site as to allowable and prohibited uses of state property. During this morning’s visit, Troopers found and seized a number of prohibited items including indicia of camping; sleeping bags, pillows, and propane tanks. Troopers also found and seized alcohol and drug paraphernalia including a pipe and a bag of syringes. Items that were prohibited on state grounds and unclaimed by the owner were removed by the Troopers. Those items are being stored and information was left on-site on how any individual wishing to claim ownership of the items can recover them. Illegal items such as drug paraphernalia will not be returned.

As Troopers assisted with removing unclaimed prohibited property, they could see grass and landscaping showing signs of damage from the sustained use. Troopers also found the site to contain a large amount of garbage, food waste, feces, and cups of what appeared to be urine. Two tents were found with interior contents covered in vomit. Troopers asked an individual coming out of one of the tents if they were in need of medical or social services. The offer was declined. Troopers have continually asked those present if they are in need of available shelter or other services, offers which have also been declined.

No tents were disassembled or removed by Troopers, however, some individuals on-site voluntarily removed tents and indicia of camping which they claimed ownership of.

Enforcement Action Taken:

Troopers issued eight individuals warning citations after they were found to be in violation of Idaho State Code 67-1613:

67-1613. CAPITOL MALL AND OTHER STATE PROPERTY AND FACILITIES – CAMPING PROHIBITED. No person shall camp on or in any state-owned or leased property or facility including, but not limited to, the capitol mall, except those that are designated as a recreational camping ground, area or facility.

Troopers also arrested four individuals identified to have outstanding arrest warrants or probation violations. The outstanding warrants referenced failing to appear in court on previous drug or disorderly conduct charges. All four were taken to the Ada County jail. Three were booked on the outstanding warrants. A fourth, a man from Boise, was turned over to the custody of Probation and Parole.

Arrested: Timothy N. Christensen, 39, Boise
Charge: Warrant (m) Failure to Appear, multiple counts

Arrested: Yolanda M. Pullman, 51, Boise
Charge: Warrant (m) Failure to Appear

Arrested: Tyler B. Berg, 19, Boise
Charge: Warrant (m) Failure to Appear, multiple counts

It is the intent of Troopers to continue to work with those on-site, to direct anyone in need of health or social services to the appropriate service providers, and to continue to educate and take enforcement action as necessary to keep the government-owned property maintained and safe.

FROM GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE JANICE McGEACHIN was not so kind in her press release:
Over the last several weeks, state property on the corner of 6th and Jefferson, in front of the old Ada County Courthouse across from the Capitol, has become the site of a protest camp occupied by radical activists taking advantage of the homeless.
I have confirmed with Idaho State Police (ISP) that many of the occupants of this camp are not homeless and actually leave the camp at night.

During this period, there have been approximately 150 open shelter beds each night at the Interfaith and Boise Rescue Shelter. No one needs to sleep outside in a tent. The activists aren’t happy with the shelters, however, because they prohibit the use of drugs and alcohol.

“Boise Mutual Aid” is the primary group organizing this ‘tent city’ protest, and they are known for their anti-police rhetoric, recently posting a picture to their Instagram account showing with baked goods featuring vulgarities targeting law enforcement.

Idahoans do not want to see our cities degenerate into crime-ridden ‘tent cities’ overflowing with sewage and needles. I have formally called on the governor and the attorney general to enforce the law and evict these lawless protesters from state property.

I have spoken with new residents of Idaho from Washington and California who have seen the destruction caused in places like San Francisco and Seattle when liberal leaders refused to take action and keep their cities clean and orderly. Preserving law and order is a key component of upholding Idaho’s conservative values.

Meanwhile, even as radical leftist activists are trampling on our laws and our landscaping, Idaho’s State Board of Education has been circulating this 2022 Idaho Threat Assessment Conference flyer hyping upcoming sessions on the supposed threat of “right-wing extremism” in America.

Comments & Discussion

21 comments for “Open Beds or Free Speech?”

  1. Please clarify: What are the two “legal decisions” that are pitted “against each other”? You cite Judge Winmill’s decision blocking the state from infringing on the protectors’ liberties under the 1st Amendment and Chief Masterson’s rationale for safeguarding people’s liberties by not assisting in evicting protestors for exercising those liberties.

    Also, “unhoused” is a more accurate description than “homeless” for the conditions being protested. Home is where the “heart” is; “house” more clearly indicates the physical safety and shelter these folks seek.

    EDITOR NOTE–How about houseless? Come on Rabula, do you also want unpennied, unshirted, unshoed (like “shoeless Joe Jackson”), unhearted? Give an old man a break!

  2. Boise Lawyer
    Feb 4, 2022, 3:09 pm

    I’m not sure the decisions are pitted against each other, or at least not yet.

    Winmill’s prior order said that placing tents on public property to call attention to a political issue was a form of political speech and, therefore, the First Amendment limits government authority to remove the tents.

    Martin says government cannot prohibit people from living in public spaces if there is another place for them to go, i.e., a shelter.

    The situation right now doesn’t pit the decisions against each other because presently there is ample space in the shelters. Interfaith claims to be full but Boise Rescue Mission has plenty of beds. That means Martin would allow the government to tell people “you can’t live here” even though Winmill’s decision means the government cannot remove the tents themselves.
    The media coverage I have seen indicates that this is basically what is happening. ISP is removing camping equipment like stoves and cooking facilities (because it is what people would use to live on the lawn) but ISP is permitting the tents to stay (because Winmill said they are part of political speech).

    What I can’t tell from the coverage is whether the protestors are primarily activists, who go home to their houses and apartments afterward, or whether they are primarily homeless people who feel they have no options. I know it is a mix at best because I recognize some of the names from the BLM protests two summers ago. I wish somebody would investigate and report how many of these tents are being placed the true homeless, and how many are being placed by people whose hobby it is to make a stir, because it would be a shame if the former were just being used by the latter.

  3. I agree with Rabula and others. Homeless is a nonsense term. I can live in a cave- that’s my home. A nomad in a tent for several traveling the country sounds pretty good. Is a transient truckdriver homeless?
    Guardian, you are the ___ person not accepting of change, or new words, or new standards. There is a word for that, in recent years the word has been modified to be more friendly.
    And you didn’t answer the question. What two decisions?

    EDITOR NOTE–As always, thanks for your kind words and support of our efforts. I updated to clarify the legal conflict (available beds vs attempt to intimidate free speech). Also note the humanitarian efforts of ISP to check on the welfare of the protesters in the latest update.

  4. Homeless is a mental illness
    Feb 4, 2022, 4:04 pm

    There has never been a better time in the history of the world to get a simple job and be paid too much for it.

    With very rare exception the folks camped in the cold are a just few sane activists building their resume. The remainder being self-medicated schizophrenics. Compassion required, yes, but realistic assessment also required. Cheap housing will not change this. Brutality will not change this either.

    Unfortunately politicians know the truth and will perpetuate. Rule #1 is never let a good crisis go to waste.

  5. Homeless, hmmm, what is it. I know what you think it means. To me, it’s just a made up word. A politician’s BS word, so young people like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, or whatever, and have a job.

    You have people living in cars that are employed by google, but cannot afford a home. They also have access to showers (company gym) and a lunch room. These people are considered homeless by community standards.

    Maybe we can put up a couple of large size Army tents at the Ada Jail and let these people have housing.

    The problem has been grow, grow, grow and ALWAYS say yes to developers. It has driven value through the roof.

  6. It’s Easy to be HARD!
    There are different vehicles into homelessness?
    The most disgusting part of this piece is Janice McGeachin’s response coming across with SO MUCH hatred!
    It isn’t okay for a PUBLIC SERVANT to try and divide Idahoans! Is it in her job description!
    SHE SCARES ME

  7. Don't Tread on Me!
    Feb 4, 2022, 5:29 pm

    Tell me which protest this picture is from.
    2009 Tea Party Rally in Boise?
    2011 Occupy Boise?
    or the recent Liberty Dog protest against the tents?
    Or the Back the Blue protest opposing BLM?

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/firedoglakedotcom/6650271661/

  8. Navillus.55
    Feb 5, 2022, 1:17 pm

    My family moved here in 1970 and bought a new 4 bedroom, 2 bath home on an irrigated half-acre on Morton Drive just off Mountain View for $30,000.00. What do you think that is worth today? I wouldn’t be able to afford a small apartment in Boise at today’s pricing. I totally agree with people protesting today’s high cost of living by staying in the tents (although not with drugs and alcohol). Boise used to be such a nice place to raise a family, but now it’s like living in Detroit, Chicago or New York City. We even are gradually becoming almost a ‘gang land’. The people staying in those tents have an important message for the city — SO LISTEN TO THEM !!!

  9. “Gubernatorial Candidate”
    Where does this statement (press release) come from?

    The Lt Governor’s web page under Press Release has not had anything posted since May 3, 2021. Odd, in such an active year for the Lt Governor the official Press Releases have been zero since last May. Her campaign website is also barren of any recent news.

    To say “enforce the law and evict these lawless protesters” just says volumes about McGeachin.

    In one breath, she says the ISP is not doing their job.

    Next (in other media) she says, I asked the executives to step in. Curious– was that as an elected official or a bat-crazy candidate (referencing this post above)?

    And in another statement yesterday she goes with, “my efforts are cleaning this up”. Meanwhile ISP has been on the job since the tents were posted.

    The Lt Governor presides over the Senate and and that’s it. Or was this while the Governor was in DC pandering to some church constituents?

    Bottom line- She is awful and unhearted!

    “homeless camping” — That’s funny!
    Hey Dad, can we go do some homeless camping?

    How is the situation in other cities? Certainly Twin Falls, Meridian and small towns have some people living on the streets or in a vehicle. Input from other Idaho places?

  10. Thanks for asking Navillus.

    It’s simple inflation and time value of money over 52 YEARS.
    52 years!

    $30,000 in 1970 increasing at 5% annually = $398,248 for this year.
    At 6% it is $658,160.95

    So what is that place worth today?
    Since I don’t know your previous address, I picked a random 4b/2b with .4 acres on Morton Dr; 6600 Morton Dr is assessed at $491,900 for last year.
    So that’s just a hypothetical comparison, did 6600 Morton appreciate at about 5.5% annual rate over 50 years? Cool.
    Would you want anything less of a rate for real estate?

    A small apartment today, $1,500.
    At 1/3 of income, that would be reasonable housing for $54,000 of annual income. Is the problem housing or wages? Or both?
    Everything is relative.

  11. Concerned Neighbor
    Feb 6, 2022, 5:14 pm

    “unhoused” is yet another bit of political correctness bigotry trying to get people to self-censor.

    These people are druggies living on tax payers dollars. The “protest” is for more freebies to those than didn’t earn it.

    If someone truly is incapable of holding down a job or staying clean then mandatory incarceration for treatment needs escalated. It’s one thing to stay to themselves, but this is to the point where its a hazard to society. I recently drove through the failed city of Portland, and Marxist McLean and Portland Lee are leading us there.

  12. American citizens experiencing dire economic, mental, or addiction problems are being subject to jack booted thugs if they find a tent a better option than being crammed into large warehouses.

    People can’t sleep in “shelters” because any valuables will be stolen, there is violence, and a warehouse full of people is NOISY. Let’s call shelter’s what they are. Night Prison.

    If anyone is naive enough to think a “homeless shelter” is a good idea, try spending a few nights in one. You’ll be crying for Mommy in 2 hours.

    Is it too much to want a government that doesn’t terrorize the people it is supposed to protect?

    Why not provide a safe, quiet, warm sleeping place, with secure storage for valuables. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or cost much at all.

    Solving the “homeless problem” is actually incredibly easy.

    The real problem is a political system where the poorest are criminalized, and treated much worse than animals.

  13. Concerned neighbor writes, “These people are druggies living on tax payers dollars. The “protest” is for more freebies to those than didn’t earn it.” This is a reference to our elected public servants?

  14. Frank, you beat me to it. That’s exactly what I thought.

    It’s the fact of McGeachin and her husband pulling free tax dollars in their PPP freebies- over $300,000- and all the others like CN spending the free stimulus money and then crying about misinformation. That was 2020, pre-election. Add in the 2018 tax cuts for all businesses. Who is getting the freebie?

    Lots of business actually needed the Covid ‘freebie’ to sustain a business. Most did not.
    But then to base a campaign on opposing federal support is just asnine.

    Still missing here is where did the Lt Governor’s Press Release come from, in any formal platform?

    EDITOR NOTE–The GUARDIAN received the info via email from the Lt. Guv. It was mixed in with the daily dose of press release flak. Turns out it was a fund-raising solicitation. It came from her, has her signature, etc. Easterner I am sure she would put you on the list of potential donors. I have no idea how the GUARDIAN got on the list.

  15. Solutions, thank you very much for your kind-hearted comment. If only there were more people like you in the world!

  16. So her official government email?
    Has more of a campaign sway to it than official Lt. Guv business, since the Lt Guv has nothing to do with the grounds maintenance, or directing ISP, and she is not in the chain for AG.

    Typical of the Lt Gov to float her campaign agenda and message while on the clock for taxpayers to foot the bill. — Instead of needlessly auditing our election ballots, someone could audit her time ‘on the clock’.

    Maybe she bought your email address in a list from her CALIFORNIA campaign consultant. Did you know, ya can’t find decent campaign consultants in Idaho? Gotta send the money out of state.

    Since she was able to donate $200,000 of her own money to her own campaign I doubt she would appreciate my response to being a potential donor. 🙂

  17. What happened to BUY IDAHO?

  18. If you can’t afford housing, that is your fault!

    That seems to be Concerned Neighbor’s opinion.

    How about the people complaining about their property tax.

    If you can’t afford your property tax, that is your fault!

    Don’t pay your taxes for long enough and you will be homeless too. That is your fault?

    Really?

  19. McLean is worse than Bieter
    Feb 9, 2022, 3:31 pm

    Basically give the homeless and bums and drug addicts the public spaces that taxpayers are supposed to pay for but can’t use. Wonderful.

  20. Covid 19 has taken center stage, in news coverage, for quite some time now. If your livin in the treasure valley you’ve had to notice its growth, somewhat newsworthy. In the past weeks our elected public servants, at all levels, are talking: property tax relief, affordable housing, homelessness. Not to forget Changing February’s moon name from SNOW moon to C-R-T MOON! Most issues, if not all having to do with growth throughout our state!
    I believe some of the treasure valleys’ growth pains come from unqualified public servants.
    City of Boise, Community Development Senior Manager, Maureen Brewer wants to qualify 5 or so developers? So as to help the City of Boise build affordable housing! On leased property owned by the city? DEVELOPMENT IS IN HER TITLE
    The city of Boise bought the land on the corner of Franklin and Orchard about 10 years ago earmarked for affordable housing. If Maureen can’t get affordable units built for ownership with her crew at city hall, then something or someone, should change.
    City of Boise could sell OUR properties to developers to build apartments. THIS WOULD PUT PARCELS BACK ON THE TAX ROLE
    City of Boise could divide into lots. Sell OUR properties to BUILDERS. Restriction of sizes, sweat labor and interest rates for first time buyers? AFFORDABLE HOUSING? THIS WOULD PUT PARCELS BACK ON THE TAX ROLE
    AFFORDABLE HOUSING NEEDS TO BE AFFORDABLE FOR THOSE PAYING FOR IT TOO
    And now for something completely different: It would be worth knowing how many parcels from let us say Broadway to 15th and the river to foothills don’t pay property tax? Lots of city, county, state and federal buildings. Parks, Schools, Churches, Hospitals? Let’s not forget the CCDC? Do they pay property taxes?
    If elected public servants are going to give property tax relief? Maybe it should be doled out to landlords that have kept rent below greedy levels! To maybe help tenants stay in affordable housing?
    Another way to lower property taxes is to make sure we have capable and educated public servants. As We The People are paying for their decisions!

  21. Let me inject some perspective and other context. I was actively involved with the Occupy Boise movement back in 2011-2012 and it seemed to possess all the right questions of the day about economic and social concerns, but what I found at the end helped me discontinue my association with that expression. It seemed to me that the core thrust of the loudest voices of Occupy were way more concerned with tribal proclivities like oppression hierarchies than things like health care, home foreclosures, income gaps and the like. Your pronouns had to be in order, or your race/gender identity needed to be established. Fighting the “Man” was actually just fighting man, especially white man, any white man. I got sick of that and withdrew my support. There was no coherent plan, other than trying to start a fight with the cops on a coupe of occasions, to address genuine concerns.

    What ended up happening is that the prissy little protesters from Portland and Seattle got tired or ran out of money from mom and dad and they went back home. The camp at the court house hosted a homeless enclave that actual Boiseans tended to and the homeless issues became the remaining cause to fight for. And the Bieter admin failed to deal with it just as the McClean admin has. That’s because government won’t fix it. Bill Roscoe and/or other serious efforts can fix it. Roscoe is the only one with a track record to show success.

    The protesters at this latest occupation at the court house merely drew fire in an era where the MAJORITY are fed up with noisy Lefists. We’ve seen Antifa/BLM trash cities. That should have been a clue as to how this would go. If homelessness is a real enough problem for those who profess their sympathy for people living on the street, then the $$$ exists in District 19, 18, 17 and 16. Pass the cup and develop a plan to house and set the homeless of Boise on the right path. If Bill Roscoe can do it….you can do it!

Post a comment

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address:

Categories