Treasure Valley rallies with differing views have same message for public

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jul 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-30 20:09:23-04

Nearly nine months after a deputy-involved shooting left Council Rancher Jack Yantis dead, the Idaho Attorney General released his decision. He concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the deputies involved in the fatal shooting could be held criminally responsible.

On Saturday, supporters of the Yantis family gathered on the statehouse steps calling for reform within the criminal justice system.

With hundreds of deaths so far this year in officer involved shootings, nationwide, a group of concerned citizens are worried that Americans won't survive as a society, they say, if such injustices are tolerated.
Parrish Miller organized the rally in the name of Jack Yantis. He was disappointed at the attorney general's findings.

"In this case, we're seeing that it happened in a rural area, to a well known member of the community.. a former candidate for sheriff," Miller said. "This not your normal police shooting victim."

The criminal justice reform activist believes the decision should have been made by a jury.

"I'm not convinced that the Idaho State Police or the attorney general are concerned about the truth," Miller said. "I think they want to defend their own, which is perhaps understandable in human nature. That's what the jury system is designed to prevent against."

Parrish is not alone in his opinion that Americans deserve an impartial justice system. That's why members of the community showed up along the statehouse steps. They want to encourage others to get educated and to get involved.

"It's the people who are not holding the officials accountable," said Lori Shewmaker, who was in attendance. "The people are the only ones who can guard freedom."

Until the people do get involved, Yantis supporters fear that things will get worse.

"The people are so apathetic now because it's happened so incrementally and people just want to live their lives," Shewmaker said. "They have a lot of stress already, so, why would they want to take on something as large as this."

Some of the Yantis family supporters moved on to Meridian with their signs in hand where, prior to Friday's attorney general ruling, a rally was already planned to thank local officers for their service.

A group assembled outside of the American Legion Hall mid-morning.

It was a past commander of the group who organized the rally. Frank Kenny served in the Air Force and says it's been heartbreaking to hear that former military members have been found to be responsible for deadly attacks on police officers nationwide.

Kenny agrees with Yantis supporters that citizens should be more engaged in what's going on in their communities.

"I think people need to speak more about what they see as positives and that's how you do move forward," Kenny said. "And, the healing begins then too because folks who don't want heavy handed policing of neighborhoods also realize that without that.. they'd be overrun with crime, violent crime."

From the American Legion Hall, they marched to the Meridian City Hall Plaza.

Kenny organized Saturday's rally to specifically thank Meridian officers. He encourages others to show their appreciation in some way, shape or form publicly or privately.