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Sunday, May 31, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Forum on lynching murals draws big crowd at Capitol

Crowd gathers for hearing at the Idaho Capitol Wednesday on controversial historic murals  (Betsy Z. Russell)
Crowd gathers for hearing at the Idaho Capitol Wednesday on controversial historic murals (Betsy Z. Russell)

Close to 60 people have gathered for this afternoon’s stakeholders public forum on two controversial, historic murals at the new Idaho Law & Justice Learning Center, formerly the Capitol Annex and before that, the Ada County courthouse, which depict white settlers preparing to lynch a Native American man.

State Historical Society Director Janet Gallimore opened the meeting with an overview of the history of the murals, noting that a year of negotiations preceded the Legislative Council’s decision to keep the murals on open view, with interpretive language posted nearby, when the building functioned as the temporary home of the state Legislature in 2008 and 2009, while the Capitol was under renovation. “The language that is installed in the building now was approved by the Legislative Council on Nov. 7, 2008, and it took us about a year to work through that language with our tribal partners, some of whom are in the audience today,” she said. “It was a very difficult ... long-term task.”

Gallimore said Idaho has three options: Leave the murals openly accessible; leave them open with interpretive plaques, as in 2008 and 2009; or cover them, as the University of Idaho College of Law has chosen to do since the building reopened

“Our board of trustees believes that the murals at the courthouse should remain accessible to the public, uncovered,” she said, “and used as a reminder of the fairness and justice that should be afforded to all people.”

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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