An array of groups will hold a rally on the state Capitol steps at 12:30 today against sexual and domestic violence and discrimination. “There is a connection between the recent acts of violence that have made national media,” the groups said in a media advisory, “high school football players racially abusing and raping their teammate with a disability, three football players sexually assaulting a young woman, four men targeting and killing a gay man, and a young man committing a domestic violence-related homicide. We have a shared responsibility to ask what we must do differently to end domination and violence.”
Speakers at the rally will include Kelly Miller, executive director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence; Fatima Tall, a youth activist with the coalition; Mel Leviton, head of the Idaho State Independent Living Center; Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise; and Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise.
The rally comes after national attention focused on the small town of Dietrich, Idaho, after the family of a disabled black high school football player filed a $10 million lawsuit charging that school officials did nothing to stop extensive bullying of the young man that culminated in his rape by white teammates. At the same time, three Boise State University football players have been dismissed over sexual assault allegations; a gay man was murdered by four men at Lake Lowell after being lured there with the promise of a sexual encounter; and there was a domestic violence-related murder in Pocatello last week.
“It’s helping people to see those connections,” Miller said. “While these may all sound like different aspects of violence, they’re coming from the same place. We prime young men to take power from others, be dominant, and then it shows up eventually in violence.”
Miller said the rally is intended to bring anti-violence activists, advocates for the disabled, the LGBT community and human rights advocates together. “This is all part of our work,” she said. “There’s that general narrative of Idaho being a place of hate and intolerance, and unsafe. We have to create an alternative there which is true, standing for something different.”