About 100 people — maskless and mostly failing to social distance — peacefully worshiped, spoke out against alleged government tyranny and protested Moscow’s face mask order Saturday in Moscow in an event organized by a state representative from southern Idaho.
No one was cited or arrested at the Moscow City Hall parking lot — the site of the third protest in four days — and no law enforcement officers were present besides Moscow police periodically driving by in patrol cars.
While Saturday was mostly without violence, a man was punched several times in the face after he appeared to throw coffee at another man as he approached. Police indicated they would release more on the incident today. A video of the confrontation, which took police in front of the Moscow Police Department, was posted to YouTube on Saturday evening. The video remained available for viewing and was seen more than 3,000 times as of Sunday evening at https://bit.ly/2S4vsyC.
Chad Christensen, R-Idaho Falls, told the crowd — some of whom wore Trump clothing, carried American flags or carried a pistol on their hip — that the attendees were not the “hostile crowd everyone made us out to be.” Christensen likely referred to Moscow officials closing the Moscow Farmers Market Saturday because of “concerns for a potentially hostile situation.”
Speakers at the event included local residents and others from other parts of the state and Northwest.
Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman voiced his frustration for those who were arrested at a Wednesday event, promoted as a “psalm sing,” at City Hall, in which few if any involved wore masks. Hoffman said the existence of the country is at stake.
“Folks, we’re in for a fight of our lives so being here is probably the most important thing you can do,” Hoffman said.
He said law enforcement do not want to enforce the mask order.
“They’re told to enforce dumb laws when they would like to be going out and solving crimes,” Hoffman said.
Sara Walton Brady, who made headlines in April after she was arrested at a Meridian, Idaho, park during an argument with police over her right to have children on the playground, spoke Saturday. The Meridian park was closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Brady said her husband is a police officer and that he will likely “have to lay down his badge” because he is not going to enforce “unconstitutional and immoral” coronavirus-related orders.
“Really, these men and women in blue, you got to start standing up for us because when you start turning on the people, who are you going to have left?” said Brady, who fought back tears at times. “The government’s not going to protect you.”
Brady pleaded not guilty to her misdemeanor trespassing charge because she could not fathom pleading guilty for standing on “wood chips” at the playground.
“Resistance to tyranny is a righteous cause,” she said.
There were no counter-protesters but some drivers honked in support or against the peaceful protesters. One man in a truck leaned on his horn for a long time, raising his middle finger.
A small group of people held signs at Friendship Square in downtown Moscow during the protest at City Hall. Andrew Tucker held a sign that read, “Moscow don’t let a cult dictate downtown.”
Tucker said he was angry about the city canceling the farmers market Saturday.
The first two protests, called “psalm sings” by organizers, last week were hosted by Moscow’s Christ Church and involved several hundred maskless people singing while defying Moscow’s mask order. Five people at the Wednesday gathering were cited, including three who were arrested, for allegedly violating Moscow’s mask order. Latah County Commissioner candidate Gabriel Rench was one of the three arrested.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.