(Governor’s Office News Release, January 20, 2023)
Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little was victorious in winning a lawsuit stemming from an encampment on the Capitol Annex, protecting the state’s ability to prevent illegal encampments that harm public property and pose significant health and safety risks.
A judge’s decision earlier this month granted the Governor’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by activists challenging his administration’s actions to remove the encampment on public property.
“We’ve sent a clear message: Idaho does not tolerate illegal public encampments and destruction of public property. Idaho is not Portland, LA, San Francisco, or Seattle where public officials have engaged in failed experiments to permit and encourage unsafe and destructive public camping,” Governor Little said. “Our successful outcome is the result of a deliberate, careful, thoughtful strategy involving complex legal issues while ensuring the state meets is obligation to protect public health and safety.”
Individuals started gathering on the state property located at Jefferson and 6th streets in Boise one year ago in mid-January. Since then, there were a growing number of violations and dangerous conduct requiring increased calls for police service and enforcement action, including multiple instances of:
The presence of hypodermic needles
- Bags containing human feces and urine
- Soiled clothing
- Vomit-covered tents
- Rotting food
- Abandoned property
- Drug abuse and distribution
- Fire hazards
At Governor Little’s direction, the Department of Administration filed a lawsuit in March of 2022 to stop the illegal public camping and the associated health and safety violations taking place on state property. In the days following the lawsuit, individuals started clearing out of the encampment and the state removed abandoned tents, garbage, and other harmful waste. In April of 2022, public encampment advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s action. The Governor moved to dismiss the lawsuit, and the court this month favored the state’s position.
The court pointed out that Idaho has a significant interest in “maintaining the Capitol grounds in an attractive and intact condition… ensuring the health and safety of its citizens, and providing unobstructed grounds and convenient access to the Capitol Mall area.”
“It is unfortunate activists chose to take advantage of vulnerable members of our community and encouraged the illegal activity while resources are available nearby to help these individuals,” Governor Little added. “Combatting public encampments serves the best interests of all Idahoans.”