A board of health meeting in Boise, Idaho, was abruptly adjourned Tuesday night after protesters gathered outside of members’ homes and offices, presenting a safety threat.
The Central District Health Board of Health was scheduled to discuss steps to take to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in the community. A draft of the proposed order suggested limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people and requiring the use of face masks in certain situations.
But the discussion was cut off 15 minutes after it started at the request of Boise Police, who grew concerned “that officers would not be able to maintain public order.”
Officers received reports of some protesters intending to force their way inside the CDH building to cause a disturbance, Boise Police said in a release. They said agitated demonstrators had gathered outside of three different board members’ homes.
One of those homes was that of Diana Lachiondo. She wasn’t there at the time ― but her 12-year-old son was. Lachiondo left the meeting in tears to rush home because she feared for her son’s safety.
“My 12-year-old son is home by himself right now and there are protesters banging outside the door,” Lachiondo said through tears, according to a video of the meeting. “I’m going to go home and make sure he’s OK.”
Lachiondo later tweeted that she and her family were fine.
“No child should be frightened by a mob of protestors, no local official should fear violence for their public service,” Boise Mayor Lauren McLean tweeted later, explaining why she had called for the meeting to be adjourned.
Another board member, Dr. Ted Epperly, told the Idaho Statesman that 15 people had gathered outside his house “beating garbage cans and flashing strobe lights through my windows. Two came up and knocked on my door during the meeting.”
Police arrested and charged one protester with trespassing. They say Yvonne St Cyr, 53, refused to voluntarily comply after entering the CDH building.
“Our community is being severely impacted by this virus and our team members and board are working tirelessly to protect our community’s health,” CDH district director Russ Duke said in a statement. “We simply ask that those who may disagree with these difficult discussion points and decisions do so in a way that is respectful and does not endanger our staff, board of health members, and our law enforcement, all who are critical in this response.”
Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) condemned the protesters’ conduct in a series of tweets and pleaded for civility.
“The actions of protesters at the private residences of public officials is reprehensible,” he wrote. “It is nothing more than a bullying tactic that seeks to silence. Our right to free speech should not be used to intimidate and scare others.”
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