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Protesters gather outside lawmaker's home after introduction of anti-picketing bill

Posted at 5:58 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 10:52:30-05

CALDWELL — It's been a year marked by unrest across the country and right here in the Treasure Valley. Protestors have taken their demonstrations beyond the state Capital and City Hall to the homes of politicians, health officials and police officers.

Now, two Idaho lawmakers want to make protests at individual's homes a crime.

“The goal behind the bill is to protect the sanctity of the home. It doesn’t stop protesting it just identifies a place where protesting is less appropriate,” Rep. Greg Chaney (R)-Caldwell said.

Chaney and Rep. Brooke Green (D)-Boise want to put an end to "targeted residential picketing."

“Showing up and terrorizing someone's home because they voted differently or have a different opinion than you is not expressing your first amendment, it’s intimidation,” Green said.

Targeted picketing applies to demonstrations outside a person's home with intentions of harassing or annoying them. The newly proposed legislation would make it a misdemeanor.

“The intent is to be able to highlight that protesting in-front of someone's home as a result of a decision either in the course of doing their job as an elected official, as a cop, it doesn’t matter. The appropriate way to communicate is not showing up and people's doorsteps,” Green said.

Both bill sponsors said the goal is to protect a person's privacy in their homes, regardless of their profession.

“I unequivocally support people's right to protest. Even protest me. But I think that there is a point and time where you have encroached on somebody’s privacy and the sanctity of their home and family, too far,” Chaney said.

Chaney knows first-hand what it is like to have protesters outside his home. Just hours after long testimony from citizens on the bill, protesters with pitchforks gathered outside his family’s home.

“My wife was angry, my children were teary-eyed and on edge,” Chaney said.

He said he was frustrated that people chose to protest after expressing their concerns earlier that day.

“That very day, with those same people I spent hours in committee listening to them testify. Hearing them and give them every single day of the legislative session to protest and make their voices known here at the statehouse, yet nonetheless, they showed up and frightened my children,” Chaney said.

The hearing on the bill continues tomorrow inside the statehouse. After which, a vote could send the bill to the house floor.