A march and rally Saturday to support the family of a rancher who was fatally shot by deputies was peaceful and incident-free, ending with the group standing in quiet protest outside the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.
About 75 people gathered for the march, prompted by the Nov. 1 death of Jack Yantis, 62, on the highway next to his ranch north of Council.
Participants carried signs that read “Murder is legal if you’re a cop” and “What happened to de-escalation?” during a somber milelong walk along U.S. 95 from Council Elementary School to the Sheriff’s Office.
“It means a lot,” said Alvin Yantis, 65, one of Jack’s older brothers. “We’ve had support from the whole country — a lot of prayers. It’s kind of kept us going.”
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Idaho State Police investigators say Jack Yantis was called to the highway after a car struck his one-ton bull, injuring the vehicle’s occupants, Jack and Doris Garner, of Nampa. ISP investigators are trying to determine what occurred as Yantis was about to shoot the bull to kill it. The FBI is investigating, too.
Two Yantis family members who were there said one of the deputies grabbed the rancher and the other began shooting. One of those witnesses, Donna Yantis, suffered a heart attack after her husband was shot. She was hospitalized in Boise.
Becca Barrow, a 30-year-old Kuna mother who grew up in Council, organized the rally through a Facebook page called Justice for Jack. Participants brought young children and dogs.
“I’m here to support the family in getting the truth out,” Barrow said. “I am upset that they haven’t released the names of the officers.”
Loraine Batt, of Nampa, brought her 84-year-old father, Dwight Moore, to the demonstration. “I just don’t know how a guy can come to shoot a bull and get shot himself,” Batt said.
“I think it was an injustice,” Moore said.
Batt said she is part of a group called Three Percenters of Idaho. About 10 others from the group were at the march, including Eric Parker, who said the Three Percenters generally focus on food sustainability and civil defense. The group has called for the end of Idaho’s refugee program.
“Our group is here today to make sure that the community has the ability to air their grievances,” Parker said.
Annie Eich, of Council, said she is second cousins with members of the Yantis and Paradis families. Donna Yantis’ maiden name is Paradis.
“I want justice,” she said. “There’s just too many things that get covered up in Adams County.”
Rancher Tim Palmer traveled from Vale, Ore.
“This could have been me or one of my cousins just as easy,” Palmer said. The public has a right to see the Sheriff’s Office incident report, he said.
Jim Joslin, a 69-year-old former mill worker and prison guard from nearby Fruitvale, carried the “Murder is legal — if you’re a cop” sign.
“It’s shoot first and ask questions later,” he said.
Jack Wright, a Midvale retiree, said he came to try to learn people’s feelings.
“It’s kind of big news in these small towns,” Wright said. “People tend to be judgmental. I think we have to wait for all the facts.”
After they reached the sheriff’s building and county courthouse, the marchers gathered under the American flag and lined up on the sidewalk. They stood there with their signs for about 20 minutes while media and others took pictures and videos.
It’s unclear whether Sheriff Ryan Zollman or any of his deputies observed the march. The door to the sheriff’s lobby was locked Saturday. An Idaho State Police vehicle cruised slowly through town as people slowly scattered to return to their vehicles afterward.
Anti-cop activists join march
Critics of police and governmental authority were among those who marched Saturday.
Matthew Townsend, of Meridian, put a sign on the hood of his truck before the march began. It read: “Is there video? ‘I don’t know’ - Sheriff Zollman.”
Townsend is active in Cop Watch, which advocates recording police stops.
“I’m here because I want to show there are people outside the county who feel there’s a serious concern,” Townsend told the Idaho Statesman. “Men wearing costumes for the state have privileges the rest of us don’t. If anyone else had shot Yantis, they’d be in jail right now.”
Townsend may be familiar to Treasure Valley residents. A restaurant cook who has run unsuccessfully for the Meridian City Council and Ada County coroner, he was picketing about taxes last January when he had a run-in with a Meridian police officer who wanted to talk to him about lingering too long in a sidewalk.
Their interaction did not go well. Townsend walked away but was then arrested for misdemeanor resisting and obstructing. Things got worse when Townsend vented on his Facebook page and tagged the family of the officer. Tagging is a way to share a posted message with specific people and make it more likely they will see it. He was charged with felony witness intimidation and faces a jury trial in January.
Jason Patrick, who has a Facebook page called “The Fight for Freedom Never Sleeps,” took video of Saturday’s march. He said he had traveled from Washington state. He called himself a “free-range columnist” with “free media.”
The Facebook page says Patrick is “going back to Bunkersville to fight alongside Cliven Bundy.” Bundy is the Nevada rancher who in 2014 was involved in a standoff with the federal government over grazing rights.