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Occupy Boise: Eviction Countdown, the City’s Prosecution of a Peaceful Protestor, and other General Insanity

The Idaho House Passed the final version of the Bill to Evict Occupy Boise on Friday afternoon. The Bill did not make it to Governor Butch Otter’s desk by Friday evening. It could be signed any moment. A lawsuit and Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order has been filed in Federal Court by Occupy Boise. The TRO Motion will be heard by Federal Judge Winmill right after the Governor signs the Bill.

Occupy Boise Pic 85 from Katie F

Gov. C. L. Butch Otter leaving the 2012 State of the State address. The lawsuit that has been filed to try to stop the vile Bill’s clampdown on people’s rights to free speech and assembly is Watters v. Otter!

On Friday morning, just before the Idaho House passed the Occupy Boise Eviction Bill, I attended the city court hearing on the arrest of Geoff Burns. Geoff was arrested for setting up a tent in Capitol Park on Boise City property just south of the Capitol steps, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street weeks before Occupy Boise began keeping a 24 hour Vigil across from the Capitol.

At that court hearing, the City’s Attorney, Ms. Musser, put on an amazing display of stonewalling, sounding like a broken record, and what sure sounded to me like a display of impudence. The Idaho Statesman reported:

“In January, Burns’ attorney, Bryan Walker, made motions to dismiss the case and to compel the city attorney to provide policies on how a person can obtain a permit for use of a park after dark. He also asked for emails, voicemail and memos related to Burns’ arrest and internal discussion of the city’s policies …”

How high up the chain might those discussions go?

“Walker said there’s evidence that the police officers who arrested Burns consulted their supervisors, who in turn consulted the chief of police and/or the mayor”.

Further, “We believe that if the mayor was consulted and had substantive input into the decision to arrest Geoff Burns, then that makes him a material witness,” Walker said after the hearing. “It pertains to whether his arrest was ‘content-neutral or not.’ ”

The City’s obstructionism came through clearly to the observers in the Court room:

” … a semi-retired Meridian resident not involved with the Occupy movement, came to observe.

“I think the prosecution is hiding crap,” he said after the hearing. “I think they went way out of their way to make a statement (by arresting Burns).”

One of the Cable TV channels in Boise is re-running The Wire. It’s Season Three – right in the middle of the Hamsterdam episodes — where Baltimore Police Lieutenant Bunny Colvin takes a different path to reduce crime and deal with drugs and crime.

“ … Colvin, furthermore, admits everything they have done has failed and any of the old strategies will still leave the residents at the mercy of the drug war”.

I can’t help but think of the parallels between the higher-ups politically-tinged clampdown on Hamsterdam, and the Idaho Legislature’s moves. Any possible new path forward out of the huge mess we all are in is forbidden by the power structure.

Part of what seemed to drive the out-of-town legislators really crazy was that victims of the financial meltdown and of draconian cuts in basic services in Idaho are working together with others in the community, and becoming empowered — right on their doorstep. Despite Department of Administration’s Teresa Luna’s fearmongering over a non-existent crime wave, the fact is that homeless people and others distressed at the bleak future everyone is facing are working together. In essence, Occupy Boise has been providing the equivalent of social services,and applied civics and other skills to people alienated by and from the system.

In the Idaho House hearing, the Legislators kept claiming there was No Order. Occupy Boise kept saying “Look at our Good Neighbor policy of respect and accountability at the Vigil Site.” Then the Legislators said: “Oh – well maybe they do have laws — but this is Our Law”.

The crusade by Scott Bedke, House Speaker “Lockdown” Denney, Teresa Luna and others against Occupy Boise will mean more demands again being made on local and state services. That’s what they seem to want. Not people with hope for the future. Or uppity folks who know how to challenge the powerful.

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