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Eye On Boise

Riggers on protests: ‘We couldn’t go where we normally would’

Prosecutor John S. Dinger began the “Add the 4 Words” sentencing hearing this afternoon by reading a statement from Idaho Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Sarah Jane McDonald. She said visitors to the Capitol are expected to “behave in a civil manner. … So what happens when visitors do not behave in a civil manner, when they selfishly think that their cause is special and justifies disruptive measures?” She recounted in her statement how she said she was pushed while blocking “Add the 4 Words” protesters from a restricted staircase in the Senate. “People were prevented from doing their jobs,” she said. “Unless we convince them in some way that their disrupting the legislative process is unacceptable, Idaho will be forced to go the way of other states” and restrict public access, she said in the statement.

The state then called Fred Riggers, 72, who is legally blind and recounted how he’s frequented the state Capitol during legislative sessions for the past 14 years. “It’s the best comedy club in town,” Riggers said, in response to a question from prosecutor Whitney Welsh as to why he goes. “I participate in our state government.” Riggers said “Add the 4 Words” protesters blocked him and others one day in the foyer of the Senate and would not allow him to leave, and another time blocked him and others from entering the ground-floor wing of the Senate where committee meetings had been scheduled to take place. “I was almost ashamed of what was going on,” Riggers told the court. “This was Idaho with an open Capitol. All of a sudden it was a lockdown situation, because we couldn’t go where we normally would.”

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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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