Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Hey, Louie, turn on the sprinklers,’ there’s a protest on the grass…

Gene Bray of Meridian testifies to the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday on proposed new Capitol grounds use rules  (Betsy Russell)
Gene Bray of Meridian testifies to the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday on proposed new Capitol grounds use rules (Betsy Russell)

The first member of the public to testify at this morning’s House State Affairs hearing on rules for use of the Capitol grounds was Gene Bray, a 25-year resident of Meridian. He said the way he reads the sound amplification section, “My hearing aids may not be allowed, because I do have sound amplification.” He also raised an issue not in the proposed new rules – open carry of firearms is allowed in the Statehouse, and last Saturday, there were numerous weapons in the Capitol as part of a gun rally, but at the Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day celebration yesterday, school children were being stopped from bringing their signs into the Statehouse because they were on sticks. “And so having firearms in the buildings and not permitting sticks is just sort of incongruous.”

Bray objected to the rules making grounds maintenance a higher priority than protests or free speech. That, he said, “Potentially allows these activities to be used as harassment against assembly, speech and protest, like, ‘Hey, Louie, turn on the sprinklers – they’re over there on the grass.” Said Bray, “I’m personally convinced that the cumulative effect ... is to discourage the exercise of free speech and assembly. This set of rules should be rejected.”




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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