Attorney: Consequences may add up for Add the 4 Words protesters
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Several Add the 4 Words protesters have been arrested more than once this year supporting their cause. While trespassing at the Statehouse only results in a misdemeanor charge, attorneys say multiple offenses can add up.
Idaho State Police troopers say 109 people account for a total of 192 arrests that have been made in relation to Add the 4 Words. Of those people, 46 have been arrested more than once.
Ty Carson is one of two people who has been arrested six times. He has been at the Capitol every day for the last six weeks, making sure he is seen by legislators as a face supporting gay rights in Idaho.
"This is my job," Carson said. "This has been my job for the last six weeks."
But it's not his profession. Carson works for a property management company.
"I'm lucky enough to know the owner of this property management company believes that this situation in the state of Idaho and the silence from the legislature is wrong, and they support me in everything that I'm doing to make it stop," he said.
But attorneys warn that some employers may not be as understanding, especially when it comes to hiring someone who has several misdemeanors on their record.
"Perhaps employers will be very interested in having people who stood up for principle," attorney Dave Leroy said. "Perhaps other employers would be concerned somebody would be too principle or too outspoken and not hire them because of those arrests."
Leroy said there's nothing wrong with standing up for a cause, but that sometimes doing it could come at a cost.
"Some employers may preliminary disqualify some people if they show up with some kind of reported arrest record or a conviction record, even if it's as minor as a trespassing case," he said.
But supporters say fighting to Add the 4 Words is worth all of the consequences that could add up.
"This is not just about a handful of us getting arrested over and over," Carson said. "This is about people who are living in despair and the leaders in this building are supposed to be creating laws and protecting us from that."
Leroy said the courts will ultimately have to decide how to handle all of the misdemeanor trespassing charges that have emerged from protests and demonstrations. They could result in fines or jail time, or the charges could be dismissed all together.
Protesters told KBOI once the legislative session is over, they plan on doing peaceful demonstrations in the hometowns of Idaho lawmakers this summer.