Idaho health meeting cut short by protesters at board members' homes

"No local official should fear violence for their public service," mayor writes.

December 9, 2020, 4:01 PM

A virtual board meeting for an Idaho health district was cut short by protesters Tuesday.

"I just got a text from my neighbor that there are protesters at my house, so I’m going to step off for just a moment to call the police because my kids are there," Diana Lachiondo, the board's commissioner, said just after the meeting, which was livestreamed on YouTube, began.

"I've also got protesters outside my house as well," said Ted Epperly, another board member.

PHOTO: People converge on Central District Health offices on Dec. 8, 2020, in Boise, Idaho, to the protest a meeting deciding on more mandates to combat COVID-19 spread.
People converge on Central District Health offices on Dec. 8, 2020, in Boise, Idaho, to the protest a meeting deciding on more mandates to combat COVID-19 spread.
Darin Oswald/The Idaho Statesman/TNS via Newscom

The meeting continued until Lachiondo broke in again, this time visibly upset. "My 12-year-old son is home by himself right now, and there are protesters banging outside the door," she said. "I'm going to go home and make sure he's okay."

Dr. David Peterman stopped the coronavirus update he was giving and sighed. "Whether I'm a pediatrician or not, I'm a father. That's just unbelievable," he said.

Less than 15 minutes later, the mayor and chief of police contacted Central District Health director Russ Duke and asked the group to end their meeting for safety reasons.

"I asked Central District Health to adjourn their meeting in the interest of public safety," Mayor Lauren McLean wrote on Twitter. "The temperature had risen to a point that wasn’t safe."

A statement released by the city of Boise on Tuesday said protesters were at least three different board members' homes and had tried to force their way into the health district building. According to the city, investigators have identified some of the individuals who were involved and are "securing warrants for their arrest on charges of disturbing the peace in the neighborhood."

"No child should be frightened by a mob of protestors, no local official should fear violence for their public service," McLean wrote.

Tuesday's protests are the latest in a series of threats against public health officials nationwide since the pandemic began. In addition to the death threats Dr. Anthony Fauci and his adult daughters have received, lesser known health officials across the country have been targeted and harassed, some to the point where they have resigned.

As of Wednesday, Idaho had reported 113,905 infections and 1,074 deaths from the virus, according to the state health department.

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