The Capitol is filled with people - parents and children watching from every floor of the rotunda at the state's official Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day ceremony; high school and college students, some of whom took part in rallies earlier; older folks who participated in a Tea Party rally; proud members of Idaho's ethnic minorities; people wearing flags and more. Today saw a remarkably peaceful interaction between several very different groups.
At the "Tea Party Convergence on the Capitol," close to 400 people gathered on the Capitol steps and heard speeches from lawmakers including congressional candidate Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, who told them, "We the people tell the government what to do - it doesn't tell us what to do." Attendees carried signs saying, "Fight Fascism," "US Congress, a legalized criminal enterprise" and "Obama and Congress Toppling USA, Wake Up America." Sprinkled among them were dissenters whose signs had slogans like "I respectfully disagree."
Hundreds more gathered a couple of blocks south at Boise City Hall, for a loud, cheering rally in commemoration of Martin Luther King, for which sign-carrying demonstrators had marched from Boise State University. "The reason why we love this country is because we're allowed to be the architects of our own destiny," BSU Black Student Alliance President David Andrews told the cheering crowd. Attendees carried signs with slogans including, "Unity, Love, Acceptance," "Expand the dream to mutual respect" and "Human Rights for Everyone."
Inside the state Capitol, First Lady Lori Otter told a crowd thick with families, "Little guys, let's turn to your parents and say, 'Thanks for bringing me here today.'" The ceremony in the newly reopened and rededicated Capitol, she said, is "also an opportunity for us to rededicate ourselves to the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. had, and to carry it on in the state." Gov. Butch Otter read an official state proclamation, and there were music, speeches and human rights awards.
At one point, the marchers from BSU filed up Capitol Boulevard to the Capitol, where the remains of the Tea Party people were still milling around on the front steps and the state ceremony was in full swing inside. They flowed down a wide ramp past the others on the steps, and there was no evidence of any conflicts. "I think they're just speaking their mind and calling it good," said Sgt. Ted Snyder, field supervisor for the Boise Police Department, who watched from his patrol car. "It's people being peaceful, and it's been a good turnout for all the events."