- Patrick Sweeney
The ACLU of Idaho condemned the city of Boise's move to shut down the Cooper Court homeless encampment, calling it a "mass raid."
In a statement issued less than two hours after Boise officials announced they would transition nearly 135 homeless men and women from Cooper Court to an emergency shelter at the city's Fort Boise Community Center, ACLU-Idaho Executive Director Leo Morales, said:
"What we saw today in Boise is government at its most shameful. Government should be open, transparent, and democratic. The City of Boise launched a secretive, surprise attack on a vulnerable community. We are aware of no open meeting that the City ever held about its plan, nor did the City ever discuss its plan with Cooper Court residents. "Morales added the city's action on Friday "created panic, confusion and paranoia," saying officials "destroyed a community using totalitarian tactics."
Though Morales did not mention any possible legal action regarding Friday's announcement from the city of Boise, he did reiterate that the city's anti-camping ordinance "remains in litigation, now pending at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals."
ORIGINAL POST: Dec. 4, 2015, 10 a.m.
The City of Boise revealed details of its plan Friday morning to dismantle Cooper Court, the controversial tent city of homeless men and women that the city said was "unhealthy and unsafe." Specifically, the city said it would assist in the transitioning of approximately 135 people living in the encampment into an emergency shelter at the city's Fort Boise Community Center on Robbins Road.
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said the city had "an amazing group of non-profits in this city eager to help" and that hoped that those people who had lived at Cooper Court for the past several months "decide to take advantage of those resources" offered by the nonprofits.
In addition to Friday's creation of the emergency shelter, the city of Boise announced that it would declare a state of emergency in the Cooper Court area.
For those Cooper Court residents who voluntarily agreed to vacate the tent city, they would be transported to the shelter, called the "Temporary Community Resource Center" where they would find "medical care, meals, showers, clean clothes and a warm bed." City officials added that service providers would also be able to provide information about shelter options and would have voucher available for groceries, taxis and local bus travel "to help them int he transition." In all, city officials said 13 community partners had "stepped up to help these residents."
"Those providers have enough capacity to provide shelter and services to those leaving Cooper Court," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter. "We hope that they will avail themselves of the services available to them."
City officials reiterated that the tent city at Cooper Court had "become the City of Boise's No. 1 area for police, fire and EMS calls with more than 1,600 calls for service so far this year."
"Those numbers show just how vulnerable these folks are and the challenges they face in their everyday lives," said Boise Police Chief Bill Bones. "Ultimately there's no choice. You have to leave [Cooper Court] today."