Idaho Anti-Maskers Delay Local Vote On COVID Measures By Swarming Home Of Health Official

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December 9, 2020 8:24 a.m.

The home of a county commissioner in Idaho was surrounded by anti-mask demonstrators on Tuesday night, forcing Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo to abruptly leave a virtual public health meeting and the meeting to be cancelled 15 minutes after it started, by the recommendation of local officials as protesters swarmed outside the Central District Health office.

According to the Idaho Statesmen, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee asked the CDH board to quickly adjourn a meeting where a vote on a public health order aimed at combatting the spread of coronavirus was scheduled to take place due to safety concerns amid demonstrations against the pack of measures.

Hundreds of demonstrators protested the order, which among other restrictions, would have limited gathering to fewer than 10 people and required face masks be worn in public and private around non-household members when social distancing is not possible.

The news comes as more than 111,800 coronavirus cases and at least 1,055 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the state as infections continue to multiply.

According to the Statesmen, Lachiondo, in tears, told the board members upon her sudden departure that her son was home alone as demonstrators banged outside of her door. 

Another board member said protesters had swarmed outside of his house as well. Dr. Ted Epperly, told the Statesman that roughly 15 people were gathered outside of his home, “beating garbage cans and flashing strobe lights through my windows. Two came up and knocked on my door during the meeting.”

Boise police took custody of at least one protester for trespassing, according to a police statement.

“This has gone too far,” per the Statesmen, McLean said later on Tuesday at a Boise City Council meeting with regard to the anti-mask demonstrations. “We’re at a point now that we need to remind ourselves this is not who we are.”

According to the Washington Post, the protests on Friday and Tuesday were organized by a network of right-wing activists called People’s Rights — founded by anti-masker and anti-government activist Ammon Bundy.

The abrupt conclusion to Tuesday’s virtual meeting followed a tense meeting last week that delayed voting on the measures after it was interrupted by anti-mask demonstrators who attempted to force their way into the CDH building. A vote on the measures has now been postponed to an unspecified date.

Gov. Brad Little (R) condemned the protesters’ appearance at a public official’s private residence in a statement on Tuesday. 

“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,” he wrote. “There is no place for this behavior in Idaho. I urge calm among Idahoans so we can get through the pandemic together, stronger.”

The Boise mayor similarly urged an end to threats of violence and intimidation.

“No child should be frightened by a mob of protesters,” McLean said in a statement Tuesday, “No local official should fear violence for their public service.”

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