On Nov. 5 last year, a group of protesters began building a tent city on the grounds of the Old Ada County Courthouse.
Occupy Boises encampment drew local and national attention as one of the longest-running Occupy protest sites in the country. At its zenith, more than 40 tents were pitched at the site.
The tent city came down in June, after U.S. Judge Lynn B. Winmill ruled that the state could do lawn maintenance and repairs over the summer. The judge hasnt yet ruled on whether such protests are protected speech and assembly.
Occupy Boise hasnt disbanded since members took their tents down, though participation in regular meetings at the site waned over the summer.
Now were looking for an indoor meeting place because the weather has turned cold, said Mary Bolognino, 69, a retired medical lab technician.
Theres a hard-core membership that is just not willing to give up, she said.
An average of 15 people turn out for 6 p.m. Monday meetings at picnic tables outside the Old Ada County Courthouse.
The Occupy movement isnt about encampment. Its about vesting the power of government back with the people, said participant Dean Gunderson.
The Boise group has a new motto: Too important to fail.
The group is marking the anniversary of its encampment with an event Saturday to aid the homeless. From noon to 5 p.m. on the courthouse grounds, free winter clothing, sleeping bags and food will be distributed to the homeless.
Right now, the whole group is focusing on the homeless issue, Bolognino said.
The group had hoped to help homeless families find a safe place to spend the night in their cars. They have approached a dozen churches, but none have agreed to allow the homeless to park cars in their lots overnight.
Its totally frustrating, Bolognino said. Theyre not allowed to park anywhere Downtown.
Occupy Boise also is circulating petitions to repeal the Citizens United ruling.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its 2010 ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court ruled that political ads paid for by corporations are protected political speech.
The fact that we have so much corporate and union interference in our election process is so frustrating, Gunderson said.
He said the group is undecided about whether to resurrect the tent city on the old courthouse property near the Idaho Statehouse. They called their protest an indefinite vigil a peaceful, around-the-clock assembly to petition the government for redress of grievances.
Following on the lead of Occupy Wall Street, groups like Occupy Boise around the country sprung up last year to protest corporate greed, policies that favor the rich and the role that money has played in politics.
State legislators called the protesters campers and passed laws outlawing camping. The protesters sued, arguing the law infringed on their constitutional rights.
Winmill issued a preliminary injunction, delaying eviction under the state-passed law. The state then sought the courts permission to temporarily move the tents for lawn maintenance, and Winmill ordered the group in June to remove the tents for eight weeks.
The Idaho Department of Administration also passed a slew of new rules governing use of the Capitol mall and other state grounds. Occupy Boise and the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging those rules as unconstitutional, arguing they are aimed at silencing dissent.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413