A lot of speculation led up to the “Defund the Police” event in Boise on Tuesday.
Boise’s Mayor, Lauren McLean, pleaded with citizens to not attend. The Boise Police Department said there were credible threats of violence from a number of sources.
Black Lives Matter kept everyone guessing most of Tuesday where their protest would take place. Later in the day, they posted on social media that if people wanted the location they could direct message the group for it.
In the end, the group ended up starting their protest at Boise State University and then a number of the BLM crowd made their way to city hall in Boise.
Idaho Dispatch was on the ground and live-streamed BLM and counter-protesters.
You can watch the video streams from our Facebook page and we’ll upload them to YouTube later on. We ended up with two videos as my phone overheated at the BLM rally standing in the sun and stopped working.
Please note that we could not be everywhere at once and that our goal was to simply report what we saw and heard.
Idaho Dispatch’s goal is to give you a balanced view of both sides of any issue and to let you make your decision based on what we are able to report to you. While we understand that no reporter can remove bias completely from their articles, our goal is to be as unbiased and balanced in our reporting as possible.
With that in mind, here is a recap of what we witnessed on the ground for the second Black Lives Matter – Boise “Defund the Police” protest and the counter-protest that occurred.
First, we were on the ground for the beginning of the Black Lives Matter – Boise “Defund the Police” protest at Boise State University.
The group met at the plaza and used large signs to keep people from entering the area.
A number of individuals were dressed in clown costumes. It is unclear why these individuals were dressed that way.
At one point, as we were circling the area to give everyone a view of the gathering, several of the clowns started following us.
I turned around and looked at them and they stopped following me. At another point when we tried to get a little closer to hear the BLM speaker, we walked up the steps which were open at that time and one of the clowns came in front of me and began dancing.
The speakers that we heard were much less animated and less vulgar than the speakers we heard at the first protest.
Again, we did not hear the speakers after we left so it is unclear if this remained true throughout the remainder of the event. When we were leaving, BLM announced that others from the crowd would be able to come up and speak.
The first speaker talked about systemic issues with racism in the country and the need for policing to change.
The second speaker discussed qualified immunity and ending it. He mentioned several examples of why qualified immunity needs to end.
We estimated the crowd in the range of 250-300. Other media outlets are reporting approximately 300-350 attendees. There is a chance there estimates are more accurate and again, we did not stay the entire time at the BLM protest so the crowd could have grown larger after we left.
When we first drove by the BLM protest we saw approximately 10 police officers. However, they soon loaded up on a bus and left.
Throughout the remainder of our time there we did not see one police officer present and only a couple of counter-protesters who did not engage with BLM.
My phone had overheated from standing in the sun and live streaming. When the live stream died, we decided to head over and cover the counter-protest that was occurring at the captiol.
When we arrived at the capitol the counter-protesters were gathered in Cecil Andrus Park.
Our initial estimates of the crowd at Cecil Andrus park was approximately 400-500. The crowd later on for counter-protesters was probably pushing over 1,000.
We missed the beginning of the counter-protesters demonstration so we are unaware of what happened prior to our arrival. Once we got there, an announcement was made that the group would be moving to Boise city hall for the remainder of the protest.
Once the counter-protesters moved to Boise city hall we noticed that barricades were blocking the street and sidewalk in front of city hall this time to keep people off the street.
The police had also set up different areas for both groups to protest. However, because BLM moved their protest to Boise State, their section was empty.
Counter-protesters were largely engaging with vehicles that were driving down Capitol Blvd. and Front Street.
Many of the vehicles at the beginning of the counter-protest at city hall were honking in support of the counter-protesters.
Several vehicles, in the beginning, did come by and flip off counter-protesters or shouted “F*** Donald Trump.” This usually prompted a chant of “USA, USA, USA” from the crowd.
There were more counter-protesters masked this time around than we saw at the first protest. At one point, one of the speakers mentioned people in city hall not wearing masks or social distancing.
It is unclear who the individuals were, but there were three people that we saw who were not wearing masks or social distancing as they watched the crowd from the window inside of city hall.
Many of the counter-protesters were armed with a lot of rifles and sidearms being carried openly which is legal in Idaho.
When the BLM protest was over at BSU, approximately 20-30 of them made their way to city hall where they stood on the corner of Main St. and Capitol Blvd.
The crowd of counter-protesters occupying that same space was about the same size. While there were a few passionate arguments from both sides, the police would walk over and ask people to keep it peaceful when it happened.
There was one Trump supporter with a Trump flag who did walk around the BLM crowd waving her flag to antagonize them and she did engage in some heated discussions with some of them. The video may help determine what exactly they were arguing about but I couldn’t understand all of it from where I was standing in the crowd.
At one point they appeared to be discussing each other’s hair and clothing style but that’s about all we could make out.
We only witnessed one other heated argument from BLM and counter-protesters and again, the police intervened and made sure both sides were going to stay peaceful.
Overall, the large police presence seemed to have deterred many of the altercations and it seems as though fewer agitators showed up this time.
Additionally, even though BLM was on one corner protesting, counter-protesters largely stayed away from the BLM group and engaged with each other or with vehicles driving by.
Later on in the protest, there were more BLM supporters that drove by and flipped off the crowd and shouted either “Black Lives Matter” or “F*** Donald Trump.” It may have been that these individuals were coming from the BLM protest and wanted to drive by to antagonize the counter-protesters.
To our knowledge, there were no physical altercations up until the time we left.
By and large, the protest was calm and even arguments seemed minimal compared to the June 30th protest.
There were two counter-protesters who were not happy that Idaho Dispatch was filming the event. At one point one of the two individuals told us to get our camera out of the area.
We informed them it was a public sidewalk and we had the right to film. Later on, the same individuals made an obscene remark to us as we walked by.
Idaho Dispatch did have the chance to interview three individuals, although one of them was not prompted.
The first interview was with a supporter of BLM named Josh.
Josh mentioned that he would like to see a re-evaluation of qualified immunity and that while he wants police reforms, he does not necessarily agree with everything the BLM movement stands for.
He also told us he is concerned with how the police have conducted themselves throughout the country and that he would like to see money moved from the police department to social programs. When we asked him where he would like that money to come out of, he mentions the militarization of the police.
Josh said he was a Christian and wants everyone to be treated equally.
You can see his interview below.
The second interview was with Cin of Idaho Liberty Dogs who was the main group leading the counter-protest.
Cin told us that they were there to support local law enforcement. She said the concerns with police brutality do not exist in Boise.
We asked if Idaho Liberty Dogs supported BLM’s right to protest and they said that they believed everyone has a 1st Amendment right to be in public and voicing their opinions.
Additionally, Cin mentioned that they do not want to see violence in Boise like has occurred in other states.
You can see the full interview below.
Finally, our third interview was not prompted.
While we were waiting to cross the street, a man was kind of engaging with other citizens. At one point he turns around and begins addressing our camera which we had turned to him to get his dialogue he was getting with other counter-protesters.
It was really less of an interview and more of a recording of his speech to us as we did not ask him any questions.
We tried to get the man’s name but he would not disclose it.
The man was black and we do know that he was from Ohio originally but now lives in the Boise area. He was not a supporter of the BLM movement. He told everyone he supported Trump and that people needed to wake up to what is happening in the country.
He asked what people are going to do without police when violence starts occurring.
You can see the full interview below. Language warning!
Boise’s new police chief said he was pleased with how the protest went overall.
He made several statements to the public and here is some of what he said,
We appreciate those who chose different venues to express their opinions. It made the crowds much more manageable in size for those who wanted to exercise their First Amendment rights. Thank you also for anyone who came from outside our city and adhered to the Boise way of being gentle and respectful to each other.
We have been told that several people jumped police barricades and those people were detained.
Additionally, BPD has said that someone was arrested for an alleged aggravated assault and another for aggravated battery but we do not have any more details at this time.
What did you think of the BLM protest and counter-protest?
Let us know in the comments below.
Note: Photos courtesy of Tammy Nichols.
Tags: Black Lives Matter, Boise Police, Defund the Police, Guns, Idaho Liberty Dogs, Lauren McLean