Boise’s chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM) held a “Defund the Police” protest in front of the city hall in Boise on June 30th.
As nationwide protests have spread across the country against the police, it took a little longer for Idaho to experience its first “Defund the Police” protest. Boise is Idaho’s largest city and BLM chose it as its first official protest against a police department.
The following recap is most of what we witnessed on the ground during the time we were there from 5:15 p.m. to 7:40 p.m.
BLM protesters and counter-protesters, many of whom were armed, exercised their 1st and 2nd amendment rights.
You can see my personal live stream of the event on Facebook or YouTube.
Police estimates are that approximately 1,000 people were in front of City Hall. From our estimates, approximately 200-250 of those would have been BLM protesters and the rest would have been counter-protesters.
What was the purpose of the BLM protest?
According to BLM – Boise’s website, its goal is to reduce the Boise Police Department’s budget. Additionally, they have a number of policies they what to see implemented as well.
We covered those specifics in our previous article.
BLM requested that those attending wear masks, gloves, and eye protection as well as social distance.
At the rally itself, BLM speakers spoke on a variety of topics. Many of those topics had to do with race relations in the United States.
At least one speaker said that they will “do what is necessary” to get the change they desire but it is unclear what her intentions were or how far she is willing to go.
Several of the speakers also spoke against the police and asked for the defunding of the police department. One BLM speaker went further than defunding and called for the abolition of the police.
When she made the statement the BLM crowd cheered loudly. You can hear her comment in the video below.
This same speaker also said that the mayor of Boise, the Boise city council members, and the county commissioners are the oppressors.
It should be noted that the mayor and city council members in Boise are Democrats. Additionally, all but one of the county commissioners are Democrats as well.
You can hear her comment in the video below.
Throughout the event, a number of chants also broke out saying “Fu** Donald Trump,” “Fu** the USA,” and “Fu** the police.” A number of signs were seen throughout the crowd and on some jackets that said “ACAB” on it.
ACAB is a term that can mean “All Cops Are Bad” or “All Cops Are Bastards.”
You can see one example in the image below
The BLM crowd also held several moments of silence for George Floyd and others which were interrupted from chants and boos from the counter-protesters.
One BLM speaker thanked the counter-protesters for being there and said they recognized their 1st Amendment rights as well.
The chants of “Black Lives Matter” were usually met with “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” from the counter-protesters. Chants of “Defund the Police” were usually met with chants of “Defend the Police.”
There are media reports that some were saying, “White Lives Matter.” I did not hear the counter-protesters as a whole, or individually, ever chant anything racist (some consider the chant racist) in unison but that does not mean that some individuals may have chanted something racist at the BLM crowd. I was just not witness to it happening. The counter-protesters I heard chanted the phrases mentioned above.
Some in the media are pointing to a motorcycle group called Vagos and a symbol on their jackets which they say represents neo-nazis. I am unfamiliar with the group but a search on Google indicates that the group is largely made up of those with Hispanic heritage and was founded by someone of Hispanic heritage. If there is a “Nazi” symbol on their jackets it would be something someone would have to ask them directly.
From what I saw, there were only five or six of them there wearing jackets. There was only one person we saw that had neo-nazi tattoos on his body and I am not sure who he was affiliated with.
The mainstream media and Democrat officials are trying to portray the entire counter-protesting crowd as neo-nazis, racists, and other labels.
Yet, one person with definitive neo-nazi tattoos out of approximately 800 would not be an accurate portrayal of the crowd. Even if the four or five Vagos members had a neo-nazi symbols on their jackets (and I have not confirmed that they do), it would still be a minuscule number compared to the overall crowd.
The vast majority of the people we saw in the counter-protest crowd and heard from wanted to support law enforcement.
There were a large number of American flags as well as ‘Blue Line” flags throughout the crowd. There were also a number of signs saying “Defend the Police” and other supportive sayings of law enforcement.
Equally, not all BLM protesters who said derogatory or racist remarks would make up the bulk of what we heard from the BLM crowd.
Some BLM protesters said, “Fu** your whiteness” to counter-protesters. Again, they too would only make up a small portion of the BLM crowd who did not say racist remarks to other individuals.
One BLM speaker did make it clear during his speech that white people were lucky that black people only wanted equality instead of revenge.
Both sides used obscene language and hand gestures towards the other side.
What we witnessed were people on both sides telling the other to “fu** off,” “fu** you” and giving each other the bird.
Both sides also made derogatory or demeaning comments toward each other. Some of the counter-protesters would tell BLM protesters to “go back to your mom’s basement” or “go home losers.” BLM protesters would call counter-protesters “red-neck fu**ers,” “racists,” and “pathetic white people.”
BLM speakers were frequently interrupted at the beginning of the event.
The interruptions seemed to die down the longer the event went on. However, when chants began from BLM protesters, counter-protesters broke into their own chants.
There were a number of altercations that did occur.
First, we want to make it clear that we did not witness the beginning of any of these altercations so we cannot say definitely who started them.
Tensions were very high in the crowd and the crowds were not separated. Counter-protesters and BLM protesters were right next to each other during the entirety of the event.
Despite the high tension in the crowd and the closeness of the protesters, the event was overwhelmingly peaceful from both sides.
However, there were a number of incidents which we did see portions of and will give you what we know about them. We want to be clear that we do not know who started these incidents.
Too often it is easy to jump to conclusions based on seeing just one portion of a video and not seeing the rest of it. So, as you see videos circulating the internet, remember that you may not be seeing the whole story. Often there is a lack of context to videos you see with these types of physical confrontations.
Here is our description of several incidents that we partially witnessed and a couple of interviews with some of those involved.
The first incident we witnessed a portion of was at the beginning of the event.
I was standing behind the main BLM crowd and recording what the speakers were saying.
A BLM individual was shoved to the ground in front of police officers. She looked at the police officers and they came over and broke up the incident.
I interviewed the counter-protester about the incident and according to him, the BLM protester was interviewing with KTVB when someone with a “Blue Line” flag went up and stood behind her with the flag open.
The girl allegedly got very angry and started making her way back through the crowd.
The counter-protester said that the girl shoved into him and he shoved her back. She fell to the ground and that is when the officers stepped in.
Both sides went their separate ways and no further physical contact was made.
The second incident we witnessed a portion of involved a BLM protester who was holding a book called, “White Fragility.”
As I was walking around and recording both crowds, I noticed she was arguing back and forth with counter-protesters. More and more people began to surround the incident.
That’s when we saw a counter-protester grab the book from the girl’s hand and toss it into the air and into the street. The book was retrieved by another BLM protester and returned to the owner.
I did interview the counter-protester who threw the book and asked her what happened.
According to her, the BLM protester was “shoving” the book into an “elderly” woman’s face. When the counter-protester told her to not do that to an elderly person, the BLM protester then allegedly shoved the book in her face.
That’s when she said she grabbed the book and threw it into the air. No more confrontation occurred with this BLM protester from this incident that we know of.
Of all the incidents that occurred, this one seemed to be the closest at breaking into something more serious.
Again, it is unclear how this incident started from my own video or from other videos I have seen.
From our video, two females were in a physical altercation which ended with both of them being on the ground. When the two individuals fell to the ground, a large crowd from both sides immediately converged and it appeared as though most of them were trying to break up the fight.
Police were also in the vicinity and helped break up the incident as well.
It is unclear if any punches were thrown in this incident that we have seen so far. After it was broken up, the crowd seemed to calm down again.
The final incident which we looked into was not caught on my camera at all other than the crowd converging on the area and the aftermath of the incident.
This particular incident was toward the end of the event and was away from the main area.
When I arrived at the area where it occurred, the Boise Police had already set up a line between several BLM protesters and the counter-protesters.
One girl, pictured earlier, was holding an ACAB sign and her friend had ACAB on the back of her jacket. The girl who was holding the sign was filling out a report for the police.
From another video we have seen, a counter-protester appears to throw the first punch at the BLM protester. However, the video we have seen is short and doesn’t appear to show the incident from beginning to end.
We were told that there was a flag ripped from a counter-protester’s hand that led to the incident beginning but we have not seen video that shows that as the start of the event.
In addition to these four incidents, we have seen video of one Vagos member hitting someone in the back of the head. Another Vagos member comes and takes the individual away from the incident. It is unclear what led to this particular incident and why he was hitting someone.
Despite these incidents, the vast majority of protesters and counter-protesters were peaceful and even though some of them engaged in heated debate, they didn’t let it escalate.
Boise’s Mayor, Lauren McLean released a statement in which she condemned counter-protesters for violence and intimidation at the rally.
She said in a Facebook statement in part,
In recent weeks on Tuesday evenings, protesters have assembled at City Hall and called for action. I’ve stepped into the crowd to listen when I can. Last night’s gathering would have been similar if not for the efforts to intimidate, and potentially incite additional violence, by counter-protesters. I condemn those who showed up in our community under the guise of ‘protection’ and instead intimidated, shouted epithets, and white nationalist slogans, and in some case physically assaulted protesters.
We do not know if Mayor McLean was at the event herself and her statement does not indicate that she was. Her statement claims that counter-protesters were intimidating BLM protesters and she offers no evidence to back up her claim.
We asked Mayor McLean in a Facebook message to clarify her statement and offer evidence that counter-protesters were intimidating BLM protesters and were the cause of any incidents that took place.
At this time, we have not heard back from McLean’s office.
The Boise Police Department said in a statement,
BPD does not condone acts of violence. In anticipating a rally or protest similar to those experienced here recently, the amount of confrontation that we saw last night was unprecedented here in Boise. Based on resources available at the scene, we did not make physical custody arrests last night. We are, however, following up on reported incidents and reviewing video to pursue charges and hold people accountable for any criminal actions conducted during the protests.
Keith Graves is a retired police officer who runs a group called “3 to 1.”
The group is compromised of hundreds of former police officers and firefighters. Graves released a response to Mayor McLean’s statement.
He said in part,
Among other things, rally organizers asked people to wear a mask, gloves, and eye protection. The average person may not think much of this, but to retired police officers who have attended riots in Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Portland, and Seattle (as our members have), this is a warning sign. Most peaceful protestors don’t ask for people to wear eye protection even during COVID outbreak. It is common for rioters to wear eye protection to keep them from being pepper sprayed.
Graves mentions in the statement that someone from the BLM protesters pepper-sprayed counter-protesters. This is not an incident that we witnessed or saw.
We sent Mr. Graves a message and asked him if he had any videos or images of the incident he is referring to. He has not yet responded to our question but we did see him there in person.
He does say that he witnessed protesters donning eye protection and respirators before the pepper spray was used in his statement.
I did not see intimidation of protesters as Mayor McLean alleges. In fact, I didn’t see her at all down there unless she was peering at the protest from City Hall. Does Mayor McLean believe that another group, protesting for support of the police, should not exercise their 1st amendment rights? It appears that she is ignoring them all together even though they outnumbered protesters at least 3 to 1.
We do not know if Mayor McLean was at the protest at any time.
It is possible she may have been watching from City Hall or may have been watching a live stream of the event but that is unclear at this time.
What some in the media are not reporting are the many incidents that we witnessed of people on both sides standing side-by-side, not shouting or physically doing anything to one another, and those that were shaking hands and hugging.
We witnessed several people who were debating back and forth shake hands or bump elbows.
The images below are ones that I got (captured from a Facebook stream) of one man who shook several BLM protester’s hands before leaving.
The man was white and both BLM protesters were black. Despite their differences, they shook hands and parted ways.
There may be more information that comes out that can be added in addition to what we have said here.
Our report is to only mention most of what we witnessed ourselves. We also wanted to get statements out from local officials on what they saw.
If you have other videos or images from the event, feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Black Lives Matter, Boise, Boise Police, Defund the Police, Lauren McLean, Protest