A day after the State of Idaho dropped its lawsuit against an encampment of protesters advocating for Idaho’s homeless community, Idaho Legal Aid upped the ante by filing in federal court.
On Monday, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a voluntary dismissal in Idaho’s Fourth District court to retract its lawsuit aiming to remove a group of protesters who erected tents at the Capitol Annex on the lawn of the old Ada County Courthouse. This protest, which supporters say raised awareness for the plight of the unsheltered homeless community, occurred from mid-January until the end of March. By the time Governor Brad Little filed suit and a hazmat team hired by the state cleared the site, it had become a political flashpoint.
The site has been quiet since March 28, when the Idaho Department of Administration closed the Capitol Annex lawn to start “annual irrigation start-up and repair” and all of the items were removed from the protest area. But, even though the demonstration is over, Idaho Legal Aid Attorney Howard Belodoff is fighting the state to get eight members of the homeless community and others the right to demonstrate at the Capitol Annex, prevent the seizure of camping supplies from their protest without adequate notice and to compensate them for the damages caused by the state’s violations of their constitutional rights.
A hearing in the case has not been scheduled yet.
Violation of Constitutional Rights? Or illegal camping?
Belodoff’s brief, filed with the U.S. District Court on Tuesday, argued the state harassed the demonstrators and violated their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly to petition their government, subjected them to cruel and unusual punishment, and executed unreasonable seizure of their belongings. The brief also alleged the state excessively fined the demonstrators and subjected them to dangerous conditions by taking their belongings.