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Tense hearing at Idaho Capitol over picketing bill prompts protest at lawmaker’s home

Protesters showed up to his home with torches and pitchforks and left a stuffed animal hung in effigy, dressed in a shirt with his name on it. | Rep. Greg Chaney’s Twitter page

BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — A bill that would prohibit targeted picketing outside officials’ homes drew a large crowd at the Idaho Capitol on Wednesday, a protest outside a state lawmaker’s house and the arrest of an Eagle man.

The bill bars anyone from picketing outside someone’s residence with an intent to “harass, annoy or alarm” another person and classifies it as a misdemeanor. Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, who co-sponsored the bill, posted on Facebook on Wednesday that about 15 people gathered outside his house Wednesday night.

Idaho State Police also arrested David Pettinger, 44, at the Statehouse shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday over two outstanding warrants. He faces charges of resisting or obstructing officers and assault or battery upon certain personnel, according to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

Chaney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday morning. But he tweeted that protesters showed up to his home with torches and pitchforks and left a stuffed animal hung in effigy, dressed in a shirt with his name on it. He said one of his daughters had asked, “Why do they want to kill Dad?”

“They say they do this because have nowhere else to protest,” Chaney wrote on social media Thursday. “I was at the Statehouse all day allowing them to insult and slander me in my own committee, and they still showed up where my wife and kids were.”

House Bill 195, sponsored by Chaney and Rep. Brooke Green, D-Boise, prohibits picketing or demonstrations on the street or sidewalk in front of a person’s place of residence and would take immediate effect if it’s approved.

The legislation is a direct response to targeted protests that occurred last year over COVID-19 public health orders — one of which forced a Central District Health board member to abruptly leave a meeting to deal with an agitated mob outside her home, where only her 12-year-old son was at the time.

In an op-ed Chaney and Green published last week, they said free speech doesn’t require civil servants to be held “captive in their homes” and instilling fear in them.

“Intimidation isn’t a form of democratic expression — it’s mob rule,” they wrote.

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