After protests derailed a Central District Health meeting Tuesday night, Boise’s police chief says there are active arrest warrants out and more could be coming.
Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee told reporters Wednesday that there are three active arrest warrants connected to people protesting outside the home of Ada County Commissioner and CDH board member Diana Lachiondo. She and other board members were supposed to hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss and vote on a potential health order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shortly after Tuesday’s meeting began, Lachiondo left after tearfully telling other members that anti-mask, anti-health-order protesters had gathered at her residence, where her children were briefly home alone. Outside the CDH building, hundreds of protesters gathered in opposition to the health order. The meeting ended shortly after, as Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and Lee asked for adjournment for safety reasons.
One person was placed under citizen’s arrest by a CDH representative for allegedly trespassing Tuesday night, before being taken into custody by police. That woman, 53-year-old Boise resident Yvonne St Cyr, was booked into the Ada County Jail on a misdemeanor count of trespassing.
According to Lee, others could soon be arrested.
“In connection with Commissioner Lachiondo’s house, we have three active arrest warrants and we are securing other warrants for other activities related that was criminal to the events that occurred last night,” Lee said Wednesday.
In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, Lachiondo wrote that there were armed protesters assembled outside of her house blaring air horns, playing sound clips from the movie “Scarface” and accusing her of tyranny. After receiving a call from her son, she left her office at the Ada County Courthouse and went home.
“The scrutiny, intimidation, harassment, and threats have taken a toll on us all, myself included,” she wrote.
Lachiondo, who wrote that both of her sons were home, and that her mom had been there but had taken the dog for a walk, called on Idaho Gov. Brad Little and other Republican leaders to “act boldly and with conviction,” and take steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“I’m calling on Republican leaders who have politicized public health, who have amplified rhetoric, capitalized on it, tacitly endorsed it while holding hands with the most extreme factions in their party: take a hard look at what you’ve become. It’s far past time to do better,” Lachiondo wrote Wednesday.
Little issued a statement on Tuesday night calling gathering at private residences “reprehensible.”
“It is nothing more than a bullying tactic that seeks to silence. Our right to free speech should not be used to intimidate and scare others,” Little said in a tweet. “There is no place for this behavior in Idaho. I urge calm among Idahoans so we can get through the pandemic together, stronger.”
Leaders around Boise issued statements in support of Lachondo on Tuesday and Wednesday, including Boise City Council members Patrick Bageant and Lisa Sánchez, as well as McLean and City Council Pro Tem Holli Woodings. Lachiondo’s fellow Ada County Commissioners Patrick Malloy and Kendra Kenyon also voiced their support.
“It is a sad day in our community when our elected public servants are harassed, intimidated, and threatened at their personal homes. I have hope that the good people in our community will continue to band together, and focus on the positive. We live in a beautiful community that condemns bullying and intimidation, and we stand together against this abhorrent behavior,” Kenyon wrote in a statement.
Malloy said he was saddened to hear that for the second time this month, people chose to gather outside of an elected official’s home.
“While I am a Constitutionalist and a conservative, I find it outrageous that citizens would think it appropriate to protest outside the private residence of any elected official,” he wrote. “This same group of protesters would find it a violation of their rights if a government agency rallied outside of their home, but find nothing wrong with causing fear and anxiety for the children and other family members of elected officials.”
Anger over Tuesday’s protest led to a petition circulating Wednesday demanding the government to function despite the intimidation. The group circulating the petition — dubbed The 97%, seemingly a reference in opposition to the far-right group the Three Percenters — has garnered over 1,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
BOISE POLICE PRESENCE
Lee told reporters Wednesday that BPD was anticipating a significant protest Tuesday night, but it ballooned into an even larger gathering than anticipated.
To complicate matters, Lee said police responded to an auto-pedestrian car accident that occurred just before the event. That crash required substantial police resources, which strained officers at the CDH protest. While the meeting continued, police were notified of the protests at board members’ homes.
Dr. Ted Epperly, in addition to Lachiondo, said he had about 15 people gather outside his Meridian residence.
Lee noted that while most protesters were orderly, it takes only a small group of agitators to make a scene very hard to manage. Police said they learned that some people intended on forcing their way into the building and that some wanted more confrontational interactions with police.
As the situation evolved, the police department voiced concerns to members of the CDH board, who voted to adjourn the meeting. It has not been rescheduled yet.
Lee said police are still trying to determine the number of protests that took place outside of board members’ homes. In Lachiondo’s case, police worked overnight to secure the arrest warrants, he said.