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Reps. Dixon, Boyle, Scott speak out about their visit to Burns protest

Reps. Judy Boyle, Sage Dixon and Heather Scott  (AP / Kimberlee Kruesi)
Reps. Judy Boyle, Sage Dixon and Heather Scott (AP / Kimberlee Kruesi)

Reps. Heather Scott, Sage Dixon and Judy Boyle held an impromptu press conference in the Capitol just now to discuss their trip over the weekend to visit protesters who have taken over a federal wildlife refuge near Burns, Ore. Dixon, R-Ponderay, said the armed protesters aren’t all from Nevada and other states. “We did hear from constituents in Idaho and there are Idaho citizens that are out there as well,” he said.  Dixon said those Idahoans contacted the legislators; their message: ‘That they weren’t being heard.’”

Asked why the protesters chose them, Dixon said, “I don’t know if they specifically chose us three, but we may have been the three that responded.” Scott, R-Blanchard, said, “It’s pretty obvious we all three agree with liberties , limited government, smaller government. I think some of the people resonate with us on those issues.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Boyle, R-Midvale, said, “We’re outsiders, and they’re outsiders, and we just brought our perspective to them. And no one had been there directly to the refuge, to see them eyeball to eyeball.” Added Scott: “And hear their grievances.”

The trio issued a press release about their trip, you can read it here. They said they first met with county officials, law enforcement and FBI officials in Burns “to make them fully aware of our intentions.” The three wrote, “One county official was visibly hostile towards our presence and used very inflammatory language about our participation, and the citizens at the refuge.”

When they went to the refuge themselves, Dixon said, they found a “vastly different” situation than they said the officials described, though he declined to elaborate, referring back to the written statement.

“Clearly, based on our brief visit to Burns, a further investigation is warranted to find a satisfactory solution not only to the standoff but to the alleged unwarranted actions of the federal agencies,” the three lawmakers wrote in their release. “At the refuge, we received a petition of grievances from the group, which is a right guaranteed to citizens under the First Amendment. They believed their grievances have been and still are being ignored.”

Wrote the three, “It is part of our job as legislators to continually understand citizen grievances, find solutions based on facts and attempt to de-escalate volatile situations whenever possible. We believe it is very important to try to preempt any similar situation that may occur in our state.”

Asked if they’ll go back to Burns, Dixon said no, but Scott said, “Possibly.”




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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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