A hearing in the Idaho Legislature with public testimony on Representative Scott Bedke’s bill to evict the Occupy Boise Vigil from public property began at 8:30 Friday morning. Occupiers packed the hearing room. Everybody was ready to testify. The House State Affairs Committee planned to speed the bill through.
But delay set in, as the Committee Chairman tried to resolve a snafu. They needed a correctly worded printed bill in front of them for a hearing and vote out of Committee. At the initial session on Wednesday, the Committee had voted to change two words in the initial version of cattle rancher Bedke’s bill. The change clarified who could seize Occupy Boise property when a raid by authorities came down. But the words had been inserted in the wrong place. Now there was dissension about what procedure to follow. The Committee recessed for half an hour to make time for the bill to be printed correctly. Some legislators did not seem pleased.
By this time, all the seats in the hearing room had filled up. The state police used this as an excuse to stop letting people in the room, even though people stand all the time at Idaho Legislature hearings. Some Occupiers told the police they would be happy to stand, and let others have their seats. But no. The Trooper said the room was at capacity. There were 60-70 people in the room, and a few were standing all along. It turns out the room capacity was 200. This was an excuse to keep people out of the room. The authorities seem to be very afraid of people in colorful winter hats. They have also suddenly become afraid of signs –ANY signs – even hand held cardboard signs. This restriction prohibiting signs and placards newly appeared in the hall of the statehouse on Friday morning:
The state’s response to Occupy Boise peacefully exercising their free speech rights on the first day of the Legislative Session. Seeing English words on paper protesting corporate power had evidently offended someone.
So here we see that new restrictions on our rights of free speech and assembly are being imposed within the capital. This is at the same time that Legislators -including at Friday’s hearing, were saying how accessible they were to the public – so no need to have those unsightly tents (and unsavory people) over there across the street reminding them of the crushing economic and other problems many Idahoans face.
The local paper reported on some of the hearing events.
The media didn’t highlight the most revealing remark of the hearing. Scott, a man from the Occupy Boise Vigil site, humbly told his story to the Legislators. He testified about how his wife had died, and after that he could not make his house payments, and ended up losing both his house and car.
In response to heartfelt testimony, Representative Andrus from
Twin Falls Lava Hot Springs said: “Did you know there had been jobs picking apples in Washington state”? Scott just looked at him— incredulously.
Andrus is the white-haired man by the flag.
There we have it. An Idaho legislator’s solution to homelessness and joblessness in Idaho. You should have hitched to Yakima for 2 weeks in October and picked apples. Get outta here!
I told Scott when I saw him afterwards that I thought he did great, that he had handled it well, and that Andrus had unwittingly revealed just how heartless many of the Legislators are.
Another man from the Vigil site hadn’t been at the hearing. He wasn’t sure if he was going to testify on Monday. I described Scott’s testimony, and the Go Pick Apples remark. Robert said: “You mean they’re like predators”. He was so right.
The very same Legislators who get apoplectic at wolves, grizzly bears, mountain lions and other natural predators existing in Idaho’s wild lands, themselves act like their own stereotypes of predators when they sense weakness in a person. “Go away and grovel for a job for two weeks in an apple orchard 400 miles from here”.
But tell me, what kind of tough guy is afraid of colorful hats and cardboard placards?
Because of the mix up in printing, the bill now has a new Number, HO 404
“CAPITOL MALL – Adds to existing law to prohibit camping on the Capitol Mall property and other state property and facilities”. This is of course the first time in Idaho’s over 120 year history that there has been any “need” for this restriction on the people’s rights of free speech and assembly.
It’s also been pointed out that this new number is what shows up with URL Not Found internet error messages. 404.
So many people wanted to testify, that a second hearing day was scheduled for Monday morning. Stay tuned!
As for Rep. Andrus, there but for fortune … BBC Video of Joan Baez, 1965.
Photos of two Idaho veterans testifying about the importance of the Occupy Boise Vigil site by the Idaho Veteran’s Memorial.
Boise Rep. Phyllis King, a supporter of Occupy Boise, is in the background of these photos.