Governor Wins Lawsuit Against Protest Encampment Outside Idaho Capitol

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
January 27, 2023News
Governor Wins Lawsuit Against Protest Encampment Outside Idaho Capitol
The Idaho State Capitol building in Boise, Idaho, in a file photo. (Carlos A Torres/Shutterstock)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little recently announced that the state has won a lawsuit from a group of protestors who set up camp near the Idaho State Capitol, from January to March 2022.

In a public statement, Little said that “Idaho is not Portland, L.A., San Francisco, or Seattle where public officials have engaged in failed experiments to permit and encourage unsafe and destructive public camping.”

The lawsuit was filed after the protest had disbanded and the State of Idaho voluntarily dropped its lawsuit aiming to remove the tent encampment from state property in March last year.

According to Boise Mutual Aid Collective (BMA), the activist group behind the protest, the purpose of setting up camp in full view of the Capitol was to raise awareness of the difficulties of experiencing homelessness, with rents on the rise.

Boisedev cited BMA’s public statement: “We stand against any body of government that would oppress people by disallowing them access to resources and then repress their rights to protest that atrocious treatment.” The group’s claims focused specifically on the overcrowded Interfaith Sanctuary emergency shelter and the Christian nature of the Boise Rescue Mission non-profit.

At the end of January, a shouting match occurred between the encampment protesters and a counter-protesting group called the Idaho Liberty Dogs. They postured and exchanged profanities but there was no physical violence.

Complaints Poured In

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean repeatedly acknowledged the housing problem in the area. In a Jan. 19 announcement last year, she urged those in need to seek assistance from local NGOs that work to resolve homelessness issues.

The city also paid out $1.3 million total to Interfaith Sanctuary and the Boise City Ada County Housing Authority to expand permanent housing solutions and increase shelter capacity by using hotel rooms, Boisedev reported.

In the beginning of February, the city announced a new program to build affordable housing.

But the protest endured and the encampment remained. Complaints about trash, hypodermic needles, human waste, soiled clothing, vomit-covered tents, violence, drug abuse, and intimidation kept pouring in.

‘Housing Available’

“I could see it every day,” the governor told Fox News Digital on Thursday. “And we had no shortage of people upset about it.”

“There was housing available for them, and programs available for them, but they were there, harassing state employees and legislators when they went by,” he said. He blamed the activists for aggravating the situation. “Some activists got these people—some of them—with not much in the way of means, ginned up to stay there.”

A federal judge dismissed the protestors’ lawsuit for a variety of reasons, including a lack of standing, as well as other legal and factual issues.

The suit claimed that the State of Idaho violated the protestor’s constitutional rights.

“The campers’ complaint fails to state a plausible claim on all counts,” the judge wrote in his decision earlier this month (pdf). “The campers conflate and confuse the issues, which, coupled with lean factual meat, means that the court must dismiss the complaint.”

“It is unfortunate activists chose to take advantage of vulnerable members of our community and encouraged the illegal activity while resources are available nearby to help these individuals,” the governor concluded in his statement.

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