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Abortion activist files tort claim against Boise over protest arrest

Nov. 25, 2022 Updated Fri., Nov. 25, 2022 at 9:54 p.m.

By Ian Max Stevenson Idaho Statesman

A Boise abortion rights activist has filed a tort claim against the city, arguing that a May arrest violated their free speech rights.

On Nov. 9, Kimra Luna filed a claim against the city arguing that a Boise noise ordinance was unconstitutional and that officers were unjustified in using force to make an arrest.

Tort claims are legal claims against government entities that must be entered before a lawsuit can be filed.

Though the claim does not site a specific dollar amount, it references ongoing distress for Luna and their children, as well as potential constitutional claims, assault and battery, false arrest and false imprisonment.

On May 14, hundreds joined an abortion protest in downtown Boise after an upcoming ruling on Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court was leaked. Luna, the co-founder of a group called Idaho Abortion Rights, used a megaphone to help lead a group of protesters along Boise’s streets, according to the claim.

Luna shouted chants such as “Keep abortion safe! Keep abortion legal!” while marching down 8th Street south of Bannock Street, which is closed to vehicles.

“The march was quintessential political speech and assembly,” according to the claim. “But soon after the march crossed Idaho Street, the Boise Police violently suppressed it.”

Officers arrested Luna in front of their 10- and 12 year-old children after demanding that they stop using the megaphone. Luna was charged with resisting or obstructing officers and a noise prohibition infraction, according to court records. Both charges were later dismissed by the city’s prosecutor.

Ritchie Eppink, an attorney representing Luna, told the Idaho Statesman by phone that he has seen a pattern among Boise police of “targeting peaceful protesters exercising basic fundamental freedom of speech and freedom of assembly rights.”

Eppink is the former legal director of the ACLU of Idaho, and now works for Wrest Collective, a nonprofit community-based legal services organization.

Eppink added that the noise prohibitions in Boise appear to be unevenly applied and that people of color have been particularly targeted. In the summer of 2021, Eppink represented a Black Lives Matter protester who was similarly cited for using a megaphone during a protest. The citation was dismissed by an Ada County magistrate judge.

“The officers singled Luna out because of Luna’s race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, and other physical characteristics,” the claim said. “The officers allowed everyone else in downtown Boise that day to use megaphones and other amplified sound, without citation or arrest.”

Luna is Mexican American and identifies as nonbinary, according to Eppink. In a statement emailed by Eppink, Luna said they were making “a stand for activists in Idaho.”

“When I was arrested I was within my rights to protest and I was doing my best to be the voice for others who were about to be affected by Roe v. Wade being overturned and the abortion bans that were to take effect in Idaho,” they said. “The arrest was a form of the Boise Police Department trying to silence our voices.”

A spokesperson for the city, Maria Weeg, said it would not comment on pending litigation.

The city noise ordinance, which dates from the 1950s, prohibits amplification that is “plainly audible” inside a residence that’s not the source of the sound or on a public right-of-way or street at a distance greater than 100 feet.

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