Mayor Lauren McLean offered another sharp rebuke of protestors who gathered outside of Central District Health, and in particular, the homes of several board members Tuesday night.
In a briefing with the press Wednesday afternoon, McLean said she has deep concerns about the increasingly tense protests occurring throughout the valley in protest of public health orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. She acknowledged that while many people gathered outside of Central District Health were peaceful, she said they still went there with the intent to stop a public meeting and halt elected officials from completing their work safely.
She also sharply criticized protesters who were demonstrating with airhorns and yelling outside the home of Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, who was not home at the time during the meeting. Her 12-year-old son was alone in the house at the time and Lachiondo left the meeting upset to go check on her son’s safety.
“Particularly when you hear cheering that a meeting has been shut down, that is the intent,” McLean said. “I looked at this as I described it. It was a mob with the intent to shut down a meeting, prevent government by the people, for the people in action and to truly terrorize children and other members of our community who are trying to do their best in these tough times.”
Why no arrests?
Some Bosieans in support of further health orders expressed frustration that the city did not arrest large numbers of the protesters, either in front of Central District Health or at the homes of the board members. McLean said three warrants for disturbing the peace have been issued to those protesting outside some of the homes and the police department is searching for them.
McLean said protesters were not arrested outside of Central District Health because they were on the health district’s private property. In order for BPD to arrest protesters, they needed permission from the health district.
“That parking lot is private property overseen by Central District Health,” she said. “Just like we partner on businesses who call on us to hold people accountable when they’re violating our mask order, we need partnership from other private entities on whose property protesters have gathered.”
McLean, Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee and Central District Health Director Russell Duke met Wednesday afternoon to discuss next steps for rescheduling the meeting and safety.
McLean’s original remarks
Prior to the start of Tuesday’s city council meeting, McLean gave the following remarks about the events at the Central District Health meeting.
McLean: “To start… I have a couple things I need to say.
“Earlier this evening, about half an hour at this point, I called the director of Central District Health and asked that he close the meeting that was happening immediately. They were making decisions that need to be made that were being pushed down to the local level.
“What we saw instead was a mob of people that showed up to disrupt the people making the very decisions we need to protect us.
“The health and safety of our residents is paramount to us. The health and safety of our citizens who are giving their time to help keep us safe is important.
“They are making the decisions us as leaders we should all be making at all level of government.
“Our officers who are on the front line called in yet again to address a mob of people,, many of whom are not from our community.
“Our officers’ health in making the line and protecting these agencies is at risk.
“I shut it down for all these reasons. This has gone too far. This is not who we are. Boiseans know, and Rod Gramer wrote it great, we live by the Idaho way. We are committed to our community and the people we live near.
“We are making decisions at local levels to keep businesses open and keep our economy going. Our commissioners families are put on the line.
“I am deeply deeply distributed by what I saw. People at the meeting were cheering after I shut it down. People on social media said I gave them the win. At the end of the day I was protecting the children of a commissioner who had protestors banging on their mother’s door, to protect the hundreds of people outside. To protect our officers who will do the work they need to follow up and make any arrests.
“This is not who we are Boise. I want us all to remember that. We have just a couple weeks left of this very tough year. Who we are and what we do will tell the story for generations to come.
“The wide majority of people in this city have shown who we are. What we saw is a rise in temperature that is not safe. The threat of violence is meant to terrorize. I’m seeing what Madison warned against when he talked about angry mobs and small groups of people who make it impossible to govern.
“The importance of rule of law and traditions we carry, so citizens can give their time to govern by the people and for the people.
“I’m deeply troubled by what I saw. We know this is not Boise, but we know we have to reckon with it and address it and make it clear this type of behavior is absolutely not OK.
“If it requires me to stop meetings to protect the health and safety of our residents, I will do so, as will our police.
“It’s that reason I asked for the meeting to be closed this evening.”
The City Council meeting then proceeded normally.