Anti-Biden Protest forms in Boise

Protestors+stand+outside+of+the+National+Interagency+Fire+Center+in+Boise%2C+Idaho%2C+on+Sept.+13.+Photo+courtesy+of+the+Associated+Press.

Protestors stand outside of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, on Sept. 13. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Hannah Shoffitt, News and Opinion Editor

Over 1,000 protesters gathered Sept. 13 in Boise to rally against President Joseph Biden. According to the Associated Press, the crowd was heavily opposed to Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and the result of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Due to the spread of wildfires this summer and fall, Biden visited three western states to promote his administration’s utilization of wartime law to help with wildfire preparedness and surveying wildfire damage, as well as pushing his economic agenda. The president landed at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise the morning of Sept. 13.
According to the , Boise police officers set up a boundary around the gate, and at least two people were charged with connection to the violent pro-Trump protests that happened Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate seemed to be the cause of frustration at the Boise protest. As stated by White House news releases, the mandate requires any employers with over 100 employees to have their employees either fully vaccinated or tested weekly. Vaccinations are necessary for federal workers or anyone doing business with the federal government. Healthcare workers who are employed in Medicare or by hospitals participating in Medicaid or other healthcare settings must be vaccinated for COVID-19. It also requires employers to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated.
“I would quit my job if they forced me to take the vaccine,” said Christi Bugen, a woman from Rupert, Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman. She brought her eight children to protest alongside her, all wearing anti-vaccine shirts.
Idaho has the lowest vaccination rate in the country, according to covidactnow.org. Many hospitals here are buckling due to patient loads caused by the COVID-19 delta variant, particularly among the unvaccinated. As of Oct. 21, 587 patients were hospitalized state-wide, and 176 patients were in intensive care due to COVID-19. Both of these are record numbers and are due for an increase as hospitals send in more data.
“I don’t think anybody should be forced to put something in their body,” Michelle Ballon of Caldwell said to the Idaho Statesman. She attended the Boise protest with a sign claiming that forced vaccines are “medical rape.”
Another fault the crowd found with the president was the recent hasty military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Many attendees seemed to believe that Biden is responsible for the suicide bomber in Kubal who killed 60 Afghans and 13 U.S. soldiers. One man, William McNabb of Nampa, arrived with a mobile display honoring the fallen U.S. soldiers. According to the Associated Press, McNabb takes the display to different events across the state. It includes a leather jacket and names of soldiers who died in Afghanistan adorning it. He said to the Associated Press that the display wasn’t usually used as a political statement.
“That’s kinda what made this political — we lost 13 [soldiers and] we shouldn’t have,” McNabb told the Associated Press.
Several far-right groups used Biden’s visit to Boise to promote their opposition to the current administration. In attendance were groups such as the Liberty Dogs, whose members frequently show up to protests heavily armed and wearing militia-type clothing. They urged others to “unwelcome” the president, and other groups followed suit, such as Health Freedom Idaho, People’s Rights, Bring Our Troops Home, and Biden Killed Americans.
A few Biden supporters made an appearance at the rally. A man from Boise, Billy Martinez, waved a Black Lives Matter flag and walked into the middle of the crowd saying “Trump lost” into his megaphone, according to the Idaho Statesman.
An online video by Martinez’s boyfriend, Leonardo González, shows protesters surrounding the pair and attempting to disconnect the megaphone. The crowd also used homophobic slurs as a woman in a Trump T-shirt grabbed Martinez’s flag.
During the president’s Sept. 13 meeting inside of the National Interagency Fire Center, Biden spoke on the dangerous effects of global warming. He told wildland firefighters that the nation owed it to them to make sure they have the necessary equipment to fight the deadly fires, according to the Idaho Statesman.
“It’s not a Democrat thing, it’s not a Republican thing, it’s a weather thing,” Biden said.
According to Haley Williams, spokesperson for the Boise Police Department, no incidents or assaults were witnessed at the protest or later reported.