Meridian, ID – An anti-vaccination activist was arrested on Tuesday after she was part of a group of parents and children who trespassed at a playground despite the area being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic (video below).
The mayor of Meridian closed playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment on March 21 out of an abundance of caution after it was discovered that the virus could live on plastic and other playground surfaces for up to three days, the Idaho Statesman reported.
Officers have routinely enforced trespassing laws at parks, even before the coronavirus-related closures.
Meridian police said they received several calls at about 4 p.m. on April 21 reporting that group of adults and children were gathered in the closed playground at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park, according to the Daily Mail.
The metal signage and caution tape that had been wrapped around the playground to mark it closed had been removed, the Idaho Statesman reported.
Officers responded to the park and asked the families who were using it to leave.
Cell phone videos filmed by some of the parents who were there showed the officers and park director explained repeatedly that the families were welcome to use the green, grassy areas of the park that were still open, but could not continue to use the playground equipment.
Sara Walton Brady, a well-known anti-vaccine activist, refused to comply with the officers’ and park director’s instructions.
Walton Brady, who is the wife of Boise Police Detective Tim Brady, repeatedly challenged the police officers and insisted it was the right of the adults and children trespassing to play in the public park, the Daily Mail reported.
But the incident wasn’t a random group of parents who were having a playdate as they tried to claim when police arrived.
It was a rally organized by a conservative group, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, as a protest of Idaho Governor Brad Little’s stay-at-home order, the Daily Mail reported.
The officers repeatedly asked the trespassers to leave the park but the women who circled them with cell phones aloft and filming weren’t going anywhere, the videos showed.
Finally, the officers had had enough.
“Ma’am, I’ve told you to exit numerous times,” an officer told Walton Brady in the video. “This is it. Exit the playground now. I’m really trying to be nice about this.”
He told them he didn’t want to have to arrest anybody, but it was clear in the video that Walton Brady wanted to be put into handcuffs.
“But we’re not trespassing. Are you going to cite everyone for not social distancing?” Walton Brady asked.
“Ma’am, ma’am, you have five seconds,” the frustrated officer warned her.
So Walton Brady walked up to him, turned around, and put her hands behind her back.
“Go ahead, arrest me for being in the park. Do it!” she ordered the officer.
Then she turned to the woman filming and said “record it!”
“Officer you don’t want to do that,” the woman filming said as Walton Brady was placed in handcuffs.
As she was being led to a police vehicle, other mothers at the park screamed at the officers and said Walton Brady’s children were there and asked what was going to happen, the video showed.
Walton Brady was transported to the Ada County Jail and booked for trespassing, the Idaho Statesman reported.
Online court records show she was released later on Tuesday night on $300 bond, and is scheduled to appear in court on May 29.
After she was released, Walton Brady was greeted by a group of supporters outside City Hall, the Idaho Statesman reported.
“I’m going to fight this,” Walton Brady vowed through a megaphone. “I was in a public park I pay taxes on.”
The Boise detective’s wife called the police wrong and the government tyrannical, the Idaho Statesman reported.
“Please let this inspire you,” Walton Brady addressed her supporters. “Please, let’s continue to band together as freedom lovers, and let’s stop this tyranny that’s occurring.”
Shortly after Walton Brady was arrested, a group of protesters showed up at the home of the Meridian police officer who had arrested her, the Idaho Statesman reported.
The group of about 40 people was led by Ammon Bundy, who led a 41-day occupation of federal land in Oregon in 2016.
Watch videos of the protest at the park here below: