Against the backdrop of lighthearted festivities July 16, including the annual Twilight Criterium, the Capitol City Public Market and Boise Farmers Market, the Black Lives Matter movement brought scores of concerned citizens to the Idaho Statehouse to condemn the killing of African-Americans by police. The second such protest in Boise since July 9, demonstrators at the July 16 rally said the seeds of similar violence are to be found locally.
"Here in Boise, we have a lot more profiling than overt police brutality," said Leta Neustaedter, who spoke from the podium. "Even though Boise's not a hot spot of police brutality yet, it could happen here."
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At the Black Lives Matter demonstration at the Idaho State Capitol July 16.
Similar protests have taken place around the country in recent weeks, following the police killings of two black men: Alton Sterling, of Baton Rouge, La., on July 5; and Philando Castile, of Falcon Heights, Minn., on July 6.
The killings, both of which were captured on video and shared widely via social media, have sharpened criticism that law enforcement disproportionately targets people of color. Five police officers were killed and nine injured July 7 when a gunman opened fire during a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas. The suspect, who was killed by a police bomb robot, allegedly targeted the officers because they were white.
Meanwhile, officials in Baton Rouge reported the morning of July 17 that multiple officers were shot near police headquarters, though details were not immediately available as the story was developing. The city has been the scene of widespread protest since the killing of Sterling, who was fatally shot by police at a convenience store.
In June, Boise Police Department officers were involved in two shootings, both of which are still under investigation.
After several speeches at the Idaho Capitol, the rally took to the streets, marching around the Capitol City Public Market before returning to the Statehouse.
Some participants said they had been subject to racial profiling and abuse at the hands of police, both in Boise and elsewhere, and reform is needed to make law enforcement members accountable to the people they serve.
"This is not a request; we are demanding justice," said demonstrator Dele Ogunrinola. "The problem of police brutality is inherent to the society that we have."
The rally was briefly disrupted twice by a man who said supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement are "traitors" and "terrorists," chanting, "white lives matter" and "blue lives matter." Capitol security removed him from the area but, for rally attendee Sean Foster, the disruption was a chance to talk about social inequality.
"He already lives in a society where white lives matter," Foster said. "These red-herring arguments—they don't want to deal with these difficult questions."
Correction: This post was amended to clarify the circumstances surrounding the killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La.
Boise Police are asking anyone who may have seen suspicious vehicles or activity in the area during the night of Oct. 25 or the early morning of Oct. 26 to call Crime Stoppers at 208-343-COPS, or use the P3 Tips app.