Department of Administration files lawsuit against protesters who marched from Boise to Palestine
Department of Administration files lawsuit against protesters who marched from Boise to Palestine

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho News 6 has obtained documents showing that the Idaho Department of Administration has filed a lawsuit against Boise over the Palestinian protesters occupying the Capitol grounds.

  • With the lawsuit, the state is seeking judicial relief to remedy the alleged damages and violations of the law caused by the ongoing protests.
  • In addition to the lawsuit, protesters have filed a countersuit drawing parallels to the Occupy Boise movement of 2011 and asserting their right to symbolic freedom of speech and assembly on government property.

(The following is a transcript of the entire broadcast.)

“When it comes to protests, often the most powerful thing is just existence…” one protester tells Idaho News 6.

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

During the first protests in early May, the group was removed from the steps of the Capitol, some say by force.

But since then, protesters have continued to occupy the square near the Capitol. “They’ve blocked off part of the lawn for us several times … and there’s really no reason why they’re doing that,” says one protester.

Idaho News 6 has now obtained documents showing that the Idaho Department of Administration has filed suit seeking a court order to stop ongoing and future violations of Idaho laws and regulations at the Capitol Annex and Capitol Mall. The agency says protesters damaged grass, blocked access and rights of way, and marked sidewalks.

“The state clearly has the authority and the duty to manage state property … and I recommend that they go to court to find out what the right course of action is rather than trying to simply arrest trespassers through a criminal complaint,” said Gary Raney, former sheriff of Ada County.

But the protesters tell me they believe they are in the right. “We are perfectly legal to be here. Protests on government property were never controversial until they decided they didn’t want us here anymore,” one protester told Idaho News 6.

The defendants in that case are filing a countersuit, claiming they are participating in a protest similar to the 2011 Occupy Boise movement, where a tent city was set up to draw attention to the national Occupy movement. “They symbolize Israel’s occupation of Palestine… they are being used purely for symbolic purposes,” says another protester.

But according to the state, it’s more than just symbolic speeches and gatherings. The state says tents and other items such as canopies, chairs, tables and cooking utensils were used for camping activities.
“When it comes to putting up tents on state property, it’s really no different than if I said my McDonald’s wrapper is a symbol of my beliefs and I’m leaving it on state property … the law doesn’t really distinguish what occupies state property,” Raney says.

In addition to groups such as Boise to Palestine, several individuals are also named in the case, including Hannah Tucker, who was arrested last week in downtown Boise for allegedly harassing a man wearing a kippah.

The protesters declined to comment on the legal proceedings. “We cannot comment on anything that has to do with lawsuits, legal proceedings or anything else,” said one protester.

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

“Oh sure… I don’t care if it’s 49 degrees, I’m going to be out here drinking water… we’re going to be here and we’re going to fight for our rights to be recognized, for our demands to be recognized and enforced, and we’re going to demand a permanent ceasefire,” the protester says.

By Everly