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Feb 28, 22

Police and Far-Right Continue to Attack and Harass Ongoing Tent Protest Demanding Housing Access in Boise

Report on ongoing tent protest outside of the Boise state capitol to demand access to low-income housing and an end to police harassment.

This Sunday marks the 6th week of the tent protest in so-called Boise, Idaho. The state has intervened and attempted to halt progress towards goals with ongoing harassment, raids, and attempts at creating division amongst the protestors. But, it hasn’t been effective in ending the protest. Cops have continued to show themselves as the predators they are, stealing donated blankets, sleeping bags and heaters/propane from folks who are putting their lives on the line in well below freezing temperatures to stand up for themselves and their community. The community has continued to support and resupply stolen survival gear, putting the state and law enforcement to shame. They have also continued arresting protesters during raids and have set exorbitant bails to make more difficult the release of folks experiencing houselessness.

When the state police aren’t harassing and raiding the protest, the fash (specifically the Idaho Liberty Dogs – who have documented ties with the Idaho state police) make their entrance. They have shown up three times this weekend alone and report they will be returning nightly to harass and record folks at the protest. They taunted folks with vulgar fat shaming, asked if they could shit in people’s tents, threatened to kill people, and tried to set someone’s tarp that was laying over their tent on fire (with the person inside of it).

Despite all the hate and violence perpetrated by the state, cops, and fash, folks have refocused with their goals and demands in the protest. An email went out earlier this week to the mayor, it reads:

Mayor McLean our past attempt to contact you to organize and facilitate solutions for those of us experiencing poverty and homelessness have gone unheard. We feel disheartened at your lack of concern for our situation.

For the well-being, safety and security of the homeless community we are asking for:

-Immediate indoor space to compensate for the services that are already in place for the homeless across the board. Unused, foreclosed and/or abandoned structures throughout the city can be assets for our needs to rectify the over-burdened system that is in dire need of expansion.

-An immediate end to Police Department ticketing, harassment, arrest and confiscation of property from the homeless community. We are tired of being kicked awake in the morning and having our belonings thrown into a trash compactor. City homeless services are inadequate and inaccesible to many in our community. The City’s criminalization of our very survival is an offense to our basic human dignity.

-Representation from the houseless community on any decision-making body regarding homelessness.

-5 acres of land, to be placed into a self-governed community land trust free from surveillance and police. $3 million to finance and build appropriate infrastructure.

We can and will assist in any possible way to speed this process along.

We feel demoralized and frustrated that our needs as well as our dignity has been overlooked for so long. We know that homelessness will not disappear overnight, but simply ignoring us or treating us as taboo or as a blight upon the community isn’t getting any of us anywhere.

We once again welcome you to our table to discuss terms of a viable solution for all sides. When our request is acknowledged please contact us for a place and time. We look forward to hearing back from you.

This email received no direct response, though the mayor responded in a news article. “Let me stress that I will never encourage a tent encampment in this city. It is not a solution to the very real problems that our neighbors experiencing homelessness are facing. People deserve better,” wrote the mayor. “That being said, I would never tolerate any harassment of Boiseans experiencing homelessness. City of Boise Police have not been involved with the current protest on state property. If someone believes they have been harassed by Boise officers, I urge them to contact both the Mayor’s Office and the Office of Police Accountability immediately.”

The folks protesting began their demonstration because there was no space for them to stay warm overnight during the middle of winter with weather falling below 10 degrees nightly – and city police constantly harassing, ticketing, taking survival gear and arresting folks sleeping outside. She is far from innocent in the harm the city and cops have caused and the evidence is everywhere.

The demonstration continues despite the many attempts by the state to destroy it. It is happening across the country, and the world and it will continue until change has crystalized. Those in power cannot make invisible the intrinsic failure of their system when the expense of their luxury and greed are humans without spaces to exist and survive. There cannot be a system built around housing as survival and at the same time excluding portions of the community from that staple. We can point to resiliency and tenacity as the reason that folks will not stop with their resistance, and it’s true. But even further there is a guarantee that folks shut out from access to resources will exist as an interruption to the facade of success and pleasures of folks having much, due to the fact that they simply have nowhere else to go.

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