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ISP: No charges in Statehouse incident because arrests would have elevated "potential for violence"

Posted at 2:00 PM, Aug 25, 2020

BOISE — Spokespersons with the Idaho State Police tell Idaho News 6 no charges were filed after protesters pushed Idaho State Police officers, breaking a glass door in the process, saying it was a concern by troopers involved in the incident that arrests could elevate the possibility of violence.

When contacted for comment on Monday, when the incident occurred, ISP officials said, "At this time it does not appear the door was broken with malicious intent and no charges have been filed."

On Tuesday, ISP officials added more details to the explanation, adding "the situation outside the House Chambers Monday broke out in a matter of moments. Idaho State Police personnel determined they could not have made arrests on the spot without elevating the potential for violence. Troopers acted in such a way as to ensure the important business of the Legislature could continue under these extraordinary circumstances. An investigation is underway into any criminal behavior that may have occurred."

Dozens of protesters including Ammon Bundy are shown on video pushing Idaho State Police troopers and demanding access to the gallery in the Idaho Statehouse.

As the pushing occurred, a door swung open and the glass shattered.

The full statement from Idaho State Police is below:

"A recent Idaho Supreme Court decision recognized the Idaho Legislature’s authority to control certain parts of the Capitol building. The Legislature controls the rules, protocols, and direction given to law enforcement in those parts of the building during special or general legislative sessions. Idaho State Police will continue to enforce laws in those parts of the building as directed by the Legislature. For questions about direction given to law enforcement personnel during the special legislative session, please contact the Legislature.

The Idaho State Police have dealt with a large number of protests in and around the Statehouse for decades. Each incident is a careful balance between the right to free speech and the needs of public safety, with Troopers very aware that their own actions may escalate or deescalate a situation with immediate impact on the safety of all involved. The situation outside the House Chambers Monday broke out in a matter of moments. Idaho State Police personnel determined they could not have made arrests on the spot without elevating the potential for violence. Troopers acted in such a way as to ensure the important business of the Legislature could continue under these extraordinary circumstances. An investigation is underway into any criminal behavior that may have occurred.

A variety of criminal charges have been filed related to protests in and around the Statehouse. Most recently, in June, charges were filed against individuals accused of damaging the exterior of the Capitol building during a protest. In 2014, protestors were blocking entrances and hallways inside the Statehouse. They were eventually cited for trespassing after they repeatedly refused, as part of their protest, to step into the gallery where they were invited to view the proceedings."