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ACLU disavows armed man who rifled through lawmakers’ desks, says was ‘abhorrent’

After state Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna showed a video to the House State Affairs Committee this morning of an armed man rifling through lawmakers’ desks and trash cans on the floor of the House – and noted that the man had attended an ACLU “Know Your Rights at the Capitol” training session before joining a Boy Scout tour of the House chamber that day – the Idaho ACLU has sent out a statement noting that it finds the man’s behavior “abhorrent” and that it was in no way related to the group’s training session.

“His action had nothing to do with the First Amendment,” said Monica Hopkins, ACLU of Idaho executive director. “In no way at all would the ACLU condone that behavior, much less train someone on that behavior.”

Hopkins said the training session was open to the public, and the ACLU hasn’t been able to identify the man. “We did have a signup sheet, but not everybody signed up,” she said.

Hopkins disputed Luna’s comment this morning that without the proposed new usage rules for the Capitol grounds, the state couldn’t stop the armed man. “Right now, because there are no rules, our only recourse in dealing with this gentleman is just to politely ask him to stop what he is doing,” Luna told lawmakers this morning. The proposed new rules, however, don't cover the interior of the state Capitol.

Said Hopkins, “The Department of Administration obviously has a videotape, and obviously has law enforcement on it. I would say they do have the tools in order to deal with this. … I would leave it to law enforcement officials to decide whether or not that is the commission of a crime. That obviously is not constitutionally protected First Amendment action.”

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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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