by April Foster
On Monday morning, a judge ruled that the four-month-long Occupy Boise vigil could remain at its current site in front of the Old Ada County Courthouse, with a few stipulations - Occupiers cannot sleep, cook, or start any fires there.
To celebrate what some were calling a “win,” and others a “victory,” a group of about 60 Occupy Boise members gathered at the encampment for a modest rally.
“Today’s rally is to show that we’re still here and we’re not going away,” said Occupier Dean Gunderson. “The activities and the intended action of the legislators really backfired on them, and it’s just making us stronger.”
Prior to the ruling, Occupiers were mandated to leave the vigil site by 5 p.m. on Monday. After the judge’s decision, Occupiers are lawfully allowed to keep their tents and hold assemblies on the property.
“It was a solid win for Occupy groups around the country,” said Gunderson. “I think it was the best result we could have had. There are Occupy camps that have been evicted all around the country, and what the judge’s ruling today says is that eviction cannot occur. Our tents are rightly recognized as elements of expressive activity that are protected under the First Amendment.”
Although the general atmosphere at the vigil site was jubilant and hopeful, some Occupiers expressed reservations with the ruling and noted that there is still plenty of work to be done.
“We’re still going to be here, and we’re still going to be redressing our grievances with public officials,” said Occupier Christopher Cooke. “They were going to go ahead and fine people for being here and exercising their freedom of speech. So it’s a win in the sense that won’t happen. But it is a loss to some degree that we won’t be able to have people camp here and that we’re not going to have firewood or be allowed to cook food.”
Occupy Boise intends to be in full compliance with the law by Friday, avoiding any potential showdown with law enforcement.
“By Friday, we’re going to be in 100 percent compliance with the judge's ruling,” said Gunderson.
As the vigil site transitions from an encampment to more of a headquarters, members of the group noted that the homeless Occupiers will be taken care of and provided shelter.
With plans to clean up the encampment under way, Occupiers are already starting to look toward the future of their movement.
“We still have things that need to be heard—things that are not going away,” said Occupier Fran Lawrence. “Even if the tents go away, if the vigil goes away, we’re still here. We love this country, and we want to speak out about the things that are ruining it. It’s all about just being even keel, smart, and trying to do the right thing.”