BOISE — Demonstrators burned masks at Boise City Hall, petitioned for signatures to recall Gov. Brad Little at Central District Health’s Boise office and espoused libertarian sentiment Friday outside Boise Mayor Lauren McLean’s home.
The protests came hours before the city’s mandatory face mask order was set to kick in at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The order requires that masks be worn in all indoor and outdoor public places in the city, with some exceptions.
“Coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth are now required in all indoor and outdoor public places,” McLean said in a press release Thursday.
“Public place” is defined in the order as “any place open to all members of public without specific invitation, including but not necessarily limited to, retail business establishments, government offices, medical, educational, arts and recreational institutions, public transportation, including taxi cabs and ridesharing,” Idaho Press reported.
As the city handed out more than 6,000 masks to prepare for the mandate, some protesters began the day by destroying them.
“While the city combats the ongoing pandemic, Health Freedom Idaho led a group of approximately 100 protesters at Boise City Hall. The protesters are against the city-wide mask mandate and burned masks to demonstrate their disapproval of the mayor’s order,” KTVB wrote in a report on the first in a string of protests, which began around 11 a.m.
At 4 p.m., protesters, including some who were at City Hall, organized at Central District Health’s Boise office as “People’s Rights.” The group’s website, peoplesrights.org, preaches individual rights and neighborhood defense, but leaves the groups it sees as infringing upon those rights unclear.
Around 60 demonstrators gathered at the health district office, some saying they were angered by the district board’s decision to revert Ada County to Stage 3 of Gov. Little’s state reopening plan. There, a booth asked attendees to sign a petition to recall Little over the economic restrictions he imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, first in the statewide stay-at-home order and next in his reopening plan.
Multiple protesters emphasized nonviolence, and one said he didn’t want to be “lumped in” with the white supremacist attendees and fights that broke out at a protest Tuesday night.
People’s Rights organizer Mario Berea spoke to the group at CDH and read McLean’s address over a megaphone so that demonstrators could gather outside the mayor’s home.
Around 30 people arrived at the house at around 5:15 p.m., but after calling for a response from the mayor, standing on the sidewalk and waving American flags, no sign of McLean or a police presence were visible. By 6 p.m., no one had crossed onto the lot’s front lawn, and a few protesters had left.
A Boise Police Department watch commander confirmed at 7:15 p.m. Friday night that the house was McLean’s but said the protests had been peaceful and that officers were watching the situation.
Berea told the Idaho Press that Friday’s protest at the mayor’s house will be the first of many, and that he hopes to designate shifts for protesters to stay outside the mayor’s house around the clock in the coming days, including on the Fourth of July.