Home of the Free? Idaho Mother Arrested, Handcuffed for Letting Kids Play in Park [Watch]

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The Idaho Statesman reports that Sara Walton Brady, 40, of Meridian was arrested — and handcuffed — for allowing her children to play on climbing equipment at a town park.

A press release issued by the Meridian Police Department said, “officers responded after several calls were made to dispatch, and then informed those gathered that the playground structure was closed and that they were welcome to utilize open areas of the park.” Families were asked to leave the area. Brady “was noncompliant and refused to leave after being given many opportunities, so she was arrested on one count of misdemeanor trespassing.”

The statement also said, “These are very trying times and the Meridian Police Department supports the public’s right to assemble for peaceful protest. However, the right does not include damaging public property or ignoring closures of city property and facilities.”

Police said there had been “caution tape” surrounding the playground equipment when the families arrived, which had been removed.

According to The Statesman, following Brady’s arrest, the police once again closed off the area with caution tape, but Facebook video later showed people removing it. Additionally, police said that metal signs indicating the playground was off-limits had been removed.

Violations of Gov. Brad Little’s stay-at-home order are considered a misdemeanor and can result in a $1,000 fine or up to six months in a county jail — or both.

Idaho has not been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus. With a population of just under 1.8 million, the state has recorded 53 deaths (through April 21). America is now in the middle of its sixth week of quarantine. Already, some states are beginning to open up and others are very close.

Having raised three children of my own, I can’t imagine how difficult this stay-at-home order has been for parents. Many of them have taken on the added burden of homeschooling. Some are coping with job losses and economic hardship as well.

How long can children be deprived of the simple pleasures of climbing, playing, sliding, hanging, and perhaps most important of all, interacting with other children?

If deprived of hands-on play for too long, the emotional damage to a child will start to outweigh the risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus. And, sorry officers, but a walk in the park with Mom just isn’t going to cut it.

Ms. Brady knows the risks. Yes, it’s possible an infected child may have left traces of the coronavirus on the playground equipment. First, she lives in a low-risk state. Second, she knows that the incidence of coronavirus is lower for children than any other age group. And I would be willing to bet that Ms. Brady had a supply of hand sanitizer to immediately apply when her children were finished playing to mitigate that risk.

One might expect these heavy-handed tactics in China, but not in America.