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Posts tagged: Occupy Boise

Occupy Boise: Idaho should pay $175K in legal fees

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Members of Occupy Boise are asking a federal judge to order the state of Idaho to pay more than $175,000 in attorney costs and legal fees after the group won a lawsuit over rules designed to curb protests and rallies around the Capitol. Under federal law, the winner of a lawsuit can generally seek to recover attorney's fees and costs from the losing side. The amount must be approved by a judge and can be appealed, just like the verdict itself. The lawsuit was filed in 2012 after the state tried to evict Occupy Boise protesters from a tent city set up near Idaho's Statehouse in 2011. Winmill found that the state's efforts to quell or limit the protest violated Occupy Boise members' free speech rights.

Click below for a full report.

Federal judge bars Idaho from removing Occupy Boise tents in the future

A federal judge today issued an order barring the state of Idaho from removing Occupy Boise tents placed on state property as part of political protests. The court had already found unconstitutional seven rules that the Legislature passed to restrict such protests; the Legislature then revoked the rules this past winter. Now that those rules are revoked, that portion of the lawsuit is moot, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill ruled. But the Occupy group also asked for a ruling declaring that aside from the rules, the state can’t enforce laws it passed restricting protests in ways that violate Occupy Boise’s First Amendment rights.

Winmill noted that as soon as Gov. Butch Otter signed the measures into law in 2012, he issued a directive to evict the Occupy tents from state property across from the state Capitol, and the Idaho State Police, following the governor’s directive, developed a detailed plan called “Operation De-Occupy Boise” to remove the items. “This policy targets political speech for suppression, and Occupy is entitled to a declaration that it violates the group’s First Amendment rights,” Winmill wrote.

Winmill ruled earlier that the state can constitutionally ban overnight sleeping and camping – but that restricting political protests, including 24-hour ones, violates the Constitution. “Going forward, the state has a great deal of discretion in enforcing the statutes,” the judge wrote. “Given the state’s history of targeting Occupy … there is a real threat that the state could use that discretion to undermine Occupy’s protests.” So he specifically ordered the state to enforce those laws in the future only in ways that are consistent with the court’s ruling on free speech rights. You can read the judge’s full ruling here.

Richard Eppink, legal director of the ACLU of Idaho and attorney for Occupy Boise, said, “This has been a long and costly battle over liberties that the state should treasure, not suppress. Let’s hope this permanent injunction gets our elected leaders to stop and think, and to start welcoming dissent, rather than trying to squelch it.” You can read the ACLU’s full statement here.

Federal judge rules Idaho’s 7-day limit on public protests violates U.S. Constitution

A federal judge has rejected some rules governing protests on Idaho property surrounding the Capitol in Boise, concluding that neither a seven-day limit on rallies nor allowing state officials discretion to waive restrictions for some groups but not others meets constitutional free-speech muster, the AP reports; the case was prompted by “Occupy Boise” protests the year before last. In a 39-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill ruled that a seven-day limit on protests, enacted by the state in response to the Occupy encampment across from the state Capitol, ran afoul of free-speech protections. Click below for the full AP report.

Judge upholds no-camping law for Occupy Boise site

A federal judge has upheld Idaho’s state law banning camping on state property near the Capitol, ruling against Occupy Boise members who sued to challenge the law. “The state here has the right to ban camping, cooking, making fires, and storing personal belongings related to camping,” U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill found. “Occupy Boise may maintain its symbolic tent city on the Capitol Mall grounds so long as it complies with all constitutional rules and regulations.”

The judge, in his 20-page ruling, noted that initially, Gov. Butch Otter ordered Occupy Boise evicted from the site immediately after he signed the legislation into law, and the Idaho State Police prepared an eviction plan they dubbed “De-Occupy Boise.” The judge then issued an injunction blocking the move. “The stated intention of Governor Otter’s edict and the State Police’s ‘De-Occupy Boise’ operation plan was to remove Occupy Boise entirely,” Winmill wrote. He found that violated the First Amendment.

“Since the Court issued its injunction barring the State from removing Occupy Boise’s tent city, it seems the State Police have scrapped their initial enforcement plan,” Winmill wrote. “If the State does not use the no-camping statutes to target Occupy Boise’s political speech, it stands on much better footing.” He also found constitutional the portion of the law requiring the state to hold personal property left on the site for 90 days and then dispose of it.

Still pending in the case is a challenge of the state’s administrative rules for enforcing the new law. You can read the judge’s ruling here; click below for a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.

ACLU: State police had secret plan for ‘Operation De-Occupy Boise’

The Idaho ACLU says its ongoing lawsuit over the state's attempts to outlaw the “Occupy Boise” protest vigil from state property across from the state Capitol has turned up a multi-agency law enforcement plan dubbed “Operation De-Occupy Boise.” The group says the plan called for “arrests and detention of protesters, despite that the new state anti-camping statute only authorizes ticketing violators, not arrest.”

The state, in legal arguments filed with the federal court, argued against releasing the documents through the discovery process, saying they were subject to a law enforcement privilege, as they “reflect planned operations that the Idaho State Police developed to implement 2012 Idaho laws.” The state's attorneys wrote, “The anticipated implementation action was scheduled to occur shortly after … (the law) became effective on Feb. 21, 2012, but did not take place as a result of this Court's order that granted in part … (the Occupy group's) emergency motion for a temporary restraining order.” They argued that release of the plans could identify individuals involved and the state's methods for conducting “potentially complex enforcement actions.” The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill, ruled that redacted versions of the documents should be provided.

In a statement, the ACLU also charges that the state missed legal deadlines in its attempts to clamp down on gatherings or protests near the Statehouse through rule changes; you can read the ACLU's full statement here. The Occupy Boise group, marking the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, re-established its Boise encampment yesterday.

Lawn care tent ban ends, but Occupy Boise tents haven’t returned

An eight-week ban on tents at the Occupy Boise vigil site on the grounds of the Capitol Annex in favor of lawn care has ended, but the tents haven't returned. Occupy members told the Associated Press they might wait until fall, as any tents erected now would have to be removed nightly to allow for watering and weekly for mowing. Plus, in the fall, Idahoans will be more focused on politics and the upcoming election. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Occupy Boise, ACLU file challenge to new state rules on protests, rallies

Occupy Boise and the ACLU of Idaho have filed a legal challenge in federal court against to new administrative rules sharply limiting rallies and other protest activities around the state Capitol and nearby buildings, including the Capitol Annex, former site of the Occupy Boise encampment. “The rules expressly target speech, expressive activity, association, and assembly protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the legal filing says. “Even a gathering of just two people is considered a 'rally' and strictly regulated by the rules. Altogether and in particulars, the rules are an unconstitutional regulation of speech, expressive activity, association, and assembly.”

You can read the legal filing here, and click below for the ACLU's news release announcement.

Judge: Occupy Boise must temporarily vacate site for lawn maintenance

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― “Occupy Boise” protesters must temporarily vacate the old Ada County Courthouse by Wednesday to allow state officials to assess damage to the grass where their tents have been erected since last November. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill made the decision Friday, modifying an order he gave in February that allowed tents to stay on the state-owned site. At the time, the judge concluded a law signed by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter to evict them violated their constitutionally-protected, free-speech rights. But with his latest decision, Winmill is giving the Idaho Department of Administration up to eight weeks to assess damage to the property and begin a rehabilitation plan. Come mid-August, Winmill says Occupy Boise can return, but its adherents must allow unobstructed access for workers to water and mow.

You can read Judge Winmill's decision here. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Court hearing on Occupy Boise focuses on lawn maintenance issues

A hearing yesterday in federal court on the Occupy Boise case focused on maintenance of the lawn at the Idaho Capitol Annex where the group's tent vigil has taken place, and how much the vigil should be disrupted to accommodate that lawn maintenance; U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill said he’ll issue a written decision by today, the Idaho Statesman reports. He also asked attorneys for both sides to participate in a conference next week to discuss the state’s new rules governing use of state property. You can read the Statesman's full article here by reporter Katy Moeller, which also notes that the larger issue, whether the state law banning camping on state property is constitutional, will be decided later.

Occupy Boise sponsors free screening Sunday of ‘Inside Job’ documentary

The Occupy Boise group is sponsoring a free showing of “Inside Job,” the 2010 film about the nation's financial industry crisis of the late 2000s that won an Academy Award for best documentary and is narrated by Matt Damon. The showing is in the Capitol Auditorium this Sunday at 2 p.m.; it will be followed by an informal discussion. There's more info about the movie here.

New rules for Capitol Mall protests: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. only, other restrictions…

Idaho's state Department of Administration has published new rules for use of the Capitol Mall grounds, as authorized by last-minute legislation that passed on the final day of this year's legislative session. The new rules, which take effect immediately but still will be reviewed by next year's Legislature, are targeted at the Occupy Boise protest across from the state Capitol, but also include rules for protests and exhibits in and around the state Capitol and other state facilities. Among them: No event can run more than 11 consecutive hours or seven consecutive days, and events are limited to the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The effect of the new rules on the Occupy Boise vigil are unclear, as a federal judge has ruled the 24/7 vigil and its tents are protected free speech; a June 7 court hearing is scheduled on the matter. The Idaho Statesman has a full report here on the new rules; you can read the new rules here, along with information on how to submit written public comments. A separate set covers indoor events. The Department of Administration is accepting written public comment on the rules through 5 p.m. on Friday, June 1.

Occupy Boise blasts state attempt to evict their tents to allow lawnmowing, maintenance

The Occupy Boise group says there's no emergency requiring evicting their 24/7 vigil to allow lawnmowing, sprinkling and the start of a construction project inside the vacant Capitol Annex. In its response filed this week to a state motion asking a federal judge to reconsider his earlier ruling allowing the tents to remain, Bryan Walker, attorney for the Occupy group wrote, “Things are just as they were when this Court entered the injunction: the State's unceasing efforts to squelch disfavored political protest still continue.” Walker referred to the state's motion asking the judge to alter his order as “its latest scheme to evict Occupy Boise.”

A hearing in the case is scheduled for June 7. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Alex Morrell; you can read the Occupy group's filing here, and the state's motion here. At the Occupy site today, across from the state Capitol, a couple of tents were being moved, while others stand. A volunteer explained that some were being moved around to accommodate the state's planned construction fencing for its work inside the building; there's still plenty of room on the lawn for the remaining tents. Two other people sat smoking and talking, along with a small dog, inside one of the larger tents; there was no one else around.

The federal judge's earlier order found that the 24-hour presence of the tents is a form of symbolic speech protected by the 1st Amendment, so the state couldn't evict them; but he didn't block the state's new law, enacted on an emergency basis by lawmakers this session, to ban camping on the Capitol Mall grounds. That means the Occupy group can have its tents there and maintain a 24-hour vigil, but can't sleep in them.

State asks court for permission to evict Occupy Boise tents for lawnmowing, watering

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho officials are seeking permission from a federal judge to temporarily remove Occupy Boise from their encampment on state land so they can perform repairs to the property. The Attorney General's office filed a motion last week asking U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to modify his preliminary ruling in February prohibiting the state from evicting protesters' tents from the old Ada County Courthouse grounds. Winmill will continue hearing the case in June. The state says it needs Occupy to vacate the lawn so it can fix damage caused by the protesters' nearly six-month long vigil and also to perform seasonal maintenance, including weekly mowing. The motion says part of the property will also need to be closed in May for construction and that protesters haven't agreed to voluntarily relocate. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Alex Morrell.

Judge Winmill to rule Monday on Occupy Boise eviction challenge

U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill, who held a hearing this afternoon on a motion to block a new law that would evict the Occupy Boise encampment from state property across from the Capitol, told attorneys for both sides that he'll issue his ruling on Monday. The state has ordered the Occupy group to vacate the site by 5 p.m. on Monday. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Alex Morrell.

Occupy Boise member arrested in October heads to court with free-speech argument

Geoff Burns, a 63-year-old retiree and Occupy Boise member who was arrested Oct. 15 for setting up a tent in Capitol Park and refusing to leave, goes to court on Friday and plans to make 1st Amendment arguments in his defense; he'll appear Friday at 11 a.m. before Judge Daniel Stecke at the Ada County Courthouse, the Idaho Statesman reports. Statesman reporter Katy Moeller has a full report here.

‘Occupy Boise’ encampment hits Day 3

More than 40 tents are now pitched on the lawn of the old Ada County Courthouse as part of the “Occupy Boise” encampment, but only a little over a dozen people were there early this afternoon, quietly talking, sitting in the sun, listening to classical music on the radio and, in one case, working on a laptop computer. A sign inked on cardboard next to the food tent announces the encampment's “good neighbor policy,” which includes “zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol anywhere in our encampment.”

The scent of freshly donated corn bread and soup wafts around the encampment as a white-haired Vietnam veteran who gives his name as David Redfeather relaxes in a lawn chair. “I just came by - I was on my way back from the V.A.,” he said, “so they asked me if I wanted to join.” He said he's planning to stick around, “Because I don't believe in corporate greed.” A 21-year-old transient with facial tattoos who goes by the name Seesea has spent two nights at the encampment in a cardboard refrigerator box, covered with a tarp and insulated with leaves. “It's been amazing,” he said. “I feel that the community mentality is on point. Everyone has a sense of that and everyone is acting on that.”

His neighbors are staying mostly in nearly-new camping tents, and many are gone during the day. “There still are folks that have jobs, that need to work,” Seesea said. “I've 100 percent devoted all my time to social change.” Signs around the encampment have slogans including, “Veterans for Peace - Abolish All War,” “Gov't Inc.” with a slashed circle over it, and “We are the 99 percent, We the people not we the corporations.” Another says, “Why should I pay for your greed???” while one lettered on a big piece of cardboard decries CCA, the Corrections Corporation of America, which runs Idaho's troubled privately-run prison south of Boise. “You crush the soul of people in the name of justice,” the sign declares.” Another just says, “Think.”

A volunteer with the group who didn't want to be named said donations have been pouring in, from hot food and warm clothes to cash. At the group's general assembly tomorrow, it'll debate whether to rent a handicap-accessible Porta-Potty for the encampment. The encampment started Saturday, and so far has weathered two cold nights and Boise's first snow.

‘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.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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