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Two abortion rights protesters file tort claims against Boise city, police over arrests

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A Bans Off Our Bodies rally attendee holds up a sign in front of the Idaho Capital Building on May 14, 2022. Several thousand Idahoans attended the event to listen to guest speakers and march toward the Idaho Supreme Court. (Christina Lords/Idaho CapitalSun)

Protesters say constitutional rights were violated when they were arrested and charged

Two people who were arrested by Boise Police Department officers during abortion rights protests in May have filed tort claims against the city of Boise alleging violations of civil rights, assault and battery and infliction of emotional distress, according to documents obtained by the Idaho Capital Sun.

The Idaho Statesman first reported the notice of tort claims. A spokesperson for the Boise Police Department could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and the spokesperson for the city of Boise declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

The Idaho Tort Claims Act requires notices of tort claims to state entities within 180 days of the precipitating event before a lawsuit is filed.

The claims, filed on Nov. 10, are directed to the city of Boise and its police department, listing about 20 individual officers in each claim.

According to one claim, Boise resident Kimra Luna and their two young children were protesting in downtown Boise on a Saturday afternoon in mid-May, about two weeks after Politico reported on a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the constitutional right to abortion.

Luna, who was one of the Boise rally’s organizers, carried a megaphone and led protesters in chants about keeping abortion safe and legal, until Boise police intervened, the claim said. Two officers forced Luna to stop using the megaphone and used “violent force” to confiscate it, then arrested and jailed Luna, according to the claim.

“Luna’s children … 10 and 12 years old at the time, were right there,” the claim said. “They saw their parent manhandled and arrested by armed, uniformed police, just for peacefully protesting.”

Police charged Luna with an infraction related to residential noise prohibitions and a misdemeanor charge of resisting and obstructing law enforcement officers, according to court records. Both charges were dismissed by the prosecutor on Aug. 29, or 15 weeks after the charges were filed.

Ritchie Eppink, an attorney for a legal nonprofit called Wrest Collective, is representing Luna. The tort claim alleges officers singled Luna out because of her race, which is Mexican American, and nonbinary gender identity.

“There were multiple other folks using amplified sound on that Saturday, and the police were focused on the one that looked different in terms of skin color and queerness and other things,” Eppink told the Sun. “It’s hard for me to figure out why Kimra would be the focus other than being singled out.”

‘It certainly was unusual’ for two protesters to be arrested, attorney says

The other claim was filed by Kristi Lynn Jordan, a Meridian resident who attended the protest with her son. David DeRoin, an attorney also with the Wrest Collective, is representing Jordan. DeRoin said he couldn’t comment on when a full lawsuit might be filed in Ada County court.

Jordan’s claim alleges Boise police demanded that she and her son leave the street where they were gathered, and when she did not comply, police “escalated to physical violence” to remove her. The claim says officers handcuffed her, carried her to a patrol car and took her to jail, and she was subsequently charged with felony battery on law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of resisting and obstructing police. The felony charge was dismissed by the prosecutor at Jordan’s preliminary hearing on Aug. 29, but the misdemeanor charge is still pending in court. She was also charged with an infraction for crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.

“Police officers engaged in selective enforcement of Idaho Code … against Ms. Jordan and her son, despite multiple instances where other protesters and attendees crossed streets outside the various limitations imposed by Idaho Code,” the claim says.

Both claims say the police officers inflicted emotional distress and falsely arrested and imprisoned the protesters in violation of constitutional rights to peacefully assemble. Not all of the allegations require a notice of tort claim, Eppink said, but the claim requires the potential defendants to preserve evidence and other records for the lawsuit when it is filed. Both claims say the dollar amount of damages is unknown at this point.

Eppink argues that the incidents were a violation of basic rights.

“It certainly was unusual, and maybe a sign of something deeper, that on May 14 there were two arrests of protesters. Occasionally we see arrests or citations of protesters, but it’s unusual, especially for people who are gathering in large numbers after major news,” Eppink said.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.