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.
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