At the Idaho State Capitol on Saturday, more than 150 residents gathered and collectively burned their masks. The rally that held the burning was to voice upset about the state’s governor, Bard Little, enacting emergency COVID-19 restrictions.
Members of families collected around metal trashcans and burned the masks outside the building, while many cheered as a young girl tossed her own mask into the bright red flames. A video was recorded of the scene, with one individual off-screen being heard remarking of the fumes: “Smell the freedom, baby.”
At one point, both Boise police officers and Idaho state troopers arrived on the scene and instructed those members of the crowd to put out the fire. Many of the protesters replied by telling the state troopers and police offers to go away.
Darr Moon, the individual who organized the capital event, clarified to the Washington Examiner that the gathering was a rally, not to be seen as a protest.
He went on to say: “We’re standing here today to rein back government, to reestablish our republican form of government, a government that has a balance between the branches. We’re kind of that belief that we need well-defined government and certain boundaries, and that’s not what we have today.”
The rally itself was reportedly organized by “Help Freedom Idaho,” a somewhat grassroots activist group. In his interview, Moon made accusations that Little was actively “appropriating money” as well as “pretty much running the show in Idaho. Moon also reminded that the governor’s emergency order signed into effect last year was “no longer necessary.”
The state’s GOP, which still holds the supermajorities in Idaho’s House and Senate, is also in a battle with the governor. The governor wants his emergency order to remain in effect in the interest of public safety.
In an interview with the Idaho Statesman, Governor Little offered: “We are so close to returning to normal. But that success is threatened by the actions taking place in the Legislature right now.”
Most of the state’s previous health ordinances have been rescinded, a fact that rally goers contend that the emergency orders issued by governor Little last year are no longer necessary.
According to data from John Hopkins University, the state of Idaho had 172,827 confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with 1,876 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic.
Should the governor of Idaho indeed rescind his emergency order from last year as the rally goers claim?