Thursday, January 26, 2012

Occupy Boise Holds Open House for Legislators, Develops New Strategies

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Occupy Boise members are bracing themselves for possible passage of House Bill 404, which would effectively evict them from their months-long vigil on the lawn of the Old Ada County Courthouse.

In an effort to court Idaho lawmakers, Occupiers held an open house on Tuesday. According to an Occupy spokesman, "approximately 20-30 legislators visited the camp, hoping to gain a better understanding of the ongoing protest.

“Right now, we’re focusing on keeping direct lines of communication open with the legislators,” said Occupier Richard Figinski. “We’re trying to encourage them to come down and talk with us and get our point of view on things so they can get a better understanding of what this vigil means.”

Occupier Paul Johnson seemed unsure if the open house had any effect on lawmakers.

“We gave a few tours and they seemed a little condescending, but they were asking questions about what they might be able to do better and what we might want to see,” said Johnson. “But it’s what they choose to do with the answers that will determine whether I feel well-represented or not.”

When the HB 402 was being considered by the House State Affairs Committee (and before passing on a 13-5 vote), Occupiers delivered two hours of impassioned speeches in opposition. When the bill surfaces before the Senate, Occupiers said they intend to respond in a similar, but modified fashion.

“While we still want them to hear our personal stories, we want to try and shift the focus more toward the issues that we’re here to address,” said Figinski. “That way, we can give them something to focus more heavily on as far as legislation goes, and they can get a firmer grasp on why we’re here.”

While the legislation is being debated in the State Capitol, Occupy Boise attorneys are exploring other options and strategies.

“Our legal team is working diligently to combat this in any way possible,” said Johnson. “If the bill passes, it would be in direct violation of our constitutional rights.”

Regardless of their efforts, the Occupiers aren’t all that hopeful about their prospects.

“I’m out here for this very reason,” said Johnson. “I think that the system is flawed and broken, so I don’t have much faith in our representatives. I don’t have much faith in our governmental processes, so I don’t know if there is anything we can do. But we will definitely continue to fight the good fight.”

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