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Eye On Boise

Tue., Nov. 1, 2011, 12:40 p.m.

‘Occupy Boise’ plans protest encampment in downtown Boise

Occupy Boise protesters say they're planning to set up an encampment later this week on the grounds of the old Ada County Courthouse, for an "indefinite vigil," the Associated Press reports. Thus far, Occupy Boise protests have included rallies and marches; one man was arrested when he set up a tent and sought to spend the night in a city park, where camping is prohibited by city ordinance, the Idaho Statesman reported. Now the group is looking at a possible protest encampment on state property. Click below for a full report from the AP, the Statesman and KTVB-TV; you can also read the Statesman's full report here and see KTVB's here.


Protesters plan encampment in downtown Boise

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Members of the Occupy Boise protest movement said they intend to set up an encampment later this week at the old Ada County Courthouse, joining demonstrators in dozens of other cities around the nation.

The group's general assembly voted last weekend to set up tents and hold an indefinite vigil on the state-owned property, located in downtown Boise and just east of the state Capitol.

Occupy Boise member Dean Gunderson said the group sent a letter on Monday to the Idaho Department of Administration, which manages the old courthouse property.

"We're notifying them of what our intent is," rather than seeking permission, Gunderson told the Idaho Statesman. "We've avoided using the term permission, which implies some government agency has the authority to abridge a constitutional right. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the people's right to peaceably assemble and seek redress."

The Boise demonstrators are part of the six-week-old Occupy movement, which began in New York City to decry corporate influence in government and wealth inequality. The decision to set up an encampment comes in the wake of similar — though bigger — demonstrations in other cities across the country.

In Portland, demonstrators pitched tents Monday in a third city park — this one on federal property, as activist filmmaker Michael Moore dropped by to praise the demonstrators' efforts.

In Tennessee, state officials agreed Monday to stop enforcing a new curfew used to dislodge Occupy Nashville protesters from the grounds around the Capitol. The protesters went to federal court seeking a temporary restraining order against Gov. Bill Haslam, arguing the curfew and arrests of dozens of supporters violated their rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.

So far in Idaho, Occupy Boise has held a handful of rallies and marches in the city's downtown. Smaller protests have also taken place in Idaho Falls and Moscow.

State authorities say it's unclear if any laws might prohibit or regulate camping on the old courthouse grounds.

"The specifics of that very issue are under current review," Idaho State Police Capt. Steve Richardson said Monday

Gunderson said the courthouse property, with its proximity to downtown and the statehouse, makes it a perfect place for the group's demonstrations.

"We need to stand vigil to ensure that the necessary laws that need to be passed, the regulatory controls that need to be passed" do get passed, he said. "It made much more sense for us to be in proximity to lawmakers."

About 60 people attended Saturday's general assembly meeting and voted on the encampment, Gunderson said. It remains to be seen how many turn out to pitch a tent and sleep outdoors as the nightly temperature begins to drop, he said.

"I am just really dedicated to this movement. I am willing to do whatever I can to advance these goals and even it that involves risking hypothermia that is what I am willing to do," Occupy Boise member Jenna Harris told KTVB-TV.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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