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Idaho Department of Administration files lawsuit against Boise to Palestine protestors

Posted at 10:28 PM, Jul 10, 2024

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho News 6 has obtained documents revealing that the Idaho Department of Administration has filed a lawsuit against Boise to Palestine protestors occupying the Capitol grounds.

  • In the lawsuit, the state seeks court-ordered relief to address alleged damages and code violations caused by the ongoing protests.
  • In addition to the lawsuit, the protestors have filed a countersuit, drawing parallels to the 2011 Occupy Boise movements and arguing their right to symbolic speech and assembly on State property.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

“Oftentimes, one of the most powerful things when it comes to protesting is just existing…” a protestor tells Idaho News 6.

It has been 69 days since local protestors against the war in Gaza arrived at the Capitol.

During the initial protests in early May, the group was removed from the steps of the Capitol, some claim forcefully.

But since then, protestors have continued to occupy space near the Capitol. “They’ve like closed off part of the lawn to us multiple times… and there’s really no reason behind why they do that,” says a protestor.

Now, documents obtained by Idaho News 6 indicate that the Idaho Department of Administration is suing, seeking court-ordered relief to halt what the department describes as ongoing and future violations of Idaho code and rules at the Capitol Annex and Capitol Mall, stating the protestors have damaged grass, obstructed access and rights of way, and marked sidewalks.

“The state clearly has the authority and the obligation to manage State property… and I commend them for going to the courts from the courts as to what the right way to go forward is, as opposed to trying to just do trespassing arrests through a criminal complaint,” says Gary Raney, former Ada County Sheriff.

But protestors tell me they believe they are within their rights. “We are absolutely legally allowed to be here. Protesting on state property has never been controversial until they decide they don't want us here anymore,” a protestor told Idaho News 6.

The defendants in the case are filing a countersuit, claiming that they are participating in a protest similar to the 2011 Occupy Boise movement, where a tent city was erected to bring attention to the national Occupy movement. “They signify the occupation of Israel in Palestine… they are being used for nothing other than symbolism,” says another protestor.

But according to the State, this goes beyond symbolic speech and assembly. The State says tents and other items such as canopies, chairs, tables, and cooking equipment have been utilized for camping activities.
“When it comes to putting tents on State land, it's really no different than if I said my McDonald’s wrapper is a symbol of what I believe in and I’m going to leave that on State land… the law doesn’t really distinguish what it is that’s occupying state property,” says Raney.

In addition to groups like Boise to Palestine, there are several individuals named in the case, including Hannah Tucker, who was arrested last week in downtown Boise in an incident involving the alleged harassment of a gentleman wearing a yarmulke.

Protestors declined to comment on the court cases. “We can’t comment on anything that has to do with lawsuits, has to do with court cases, has to do with nothing,” says a protestor.

And they say even if they are relocated, “So if you were removed from this space today, you would be somewhere else tomorrow?” asked Idaho News 6.

“Oh sure… I don’t care if it’s 120 degrees, I’ll be out here drinking water… we’re gonna be here and we’re going to be fighting for our rights to be recognized, for our demands to be recognized and upheld, and we’re going to be demanding a permanent ceasefire,” says the protestor.