Idaho activist arrested for refusing to leave playground

Idaho activist arrested for refusing to leave playground

By The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An anti-vaccine activist was arrested in Idaho after she repeatedly refused orders by police to leave a playground that had been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sara Brady, who is affiliated with two groups that sponsored a protest at the Idaho Statehouse last week against Gov. Brad Little’s stay-at-home order, was at the playground in Meridian with several other families as part of what some have dubbed a “playdate protest.”

Video posted by another person at the playground shows officers repeatedly asking Brady to leave, telling her the play structures had been closed under an order from the mayor. They said Brady and the rest of the group were welcome to continue playing on the grassy areas of the park.

Brady, who was there with her children, repeatedly refused.

“Arrest me for being in the park. Do it,” she told the officer, placing her hands behind her back and telling another protester to continue recording as she was handcuffed.

Brady, 40, was booked into the Ada County Jail and charged with misdemeanor trespassing on a closed playground. She posted $300 bond a short time later.

Brady and others gathered later that day in front of Meridian City Hall to protest.

“I wasn’t the only person standing on the park. I definitely wasn’t playing on the playground equipment. I wasn’t swinging, never touched them. But yeah, I do feel like I was singled out and maybe it was because I asked too many questions,” she told Boise television station KBOI.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe life-threatening illness, including pneumonia, and death.

There has been a growing number of protests in Idaho and elsewhere over stay-at-home orders. Idaho has nearly 1,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, including 51 deaths.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is expected to be the keynote speaker at a rally in eastern Idaho this weekend. On April 14, she sent a letter to Little, a fellow Republican, opposing any extension of the statewide stay-at-home order beyond April 30, saying it would be “catastrophic to our economy.”

“I also fear the potential of a constitutional showdown between some of the people of Idaho and your administration,” she wrote.

The governor has said the extension to April 30 is an effort slow the spread of COVID-19. “I’m always concerned and interested in the opinions of the duly elected legislators in Idaho, but as I view my responsibility on a statewide basis,” Little said. “I gotta do what I gotta do for the state of Idaho.”

Some business owners have reopened in defiance of the order. A gym in Middleton, Idaho, reopened Monday and a bar in Nampa announced it would begin serving customers inside this weekend. A northern Idaho woman was given a misdemeanor citation earlier this week after refusing to shut down her yard sale.

Court records do not show if Brady has obtained an attorney. A hearing in the case is scheduled for May 29. If convicted, the misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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