Coeur d'Alene Police Threaten Preachers With Arrest to Protect Gay Pride Event in City Park

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

In 1937, the US Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment applied to the states just as it did to the federal government. That is, state and local government, just as Congress, “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”


Someone should make a call to whoever is running Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and spread the word to them.

Today a group called the “North Idaho Pride Alliance” is holding an event in the Coeur d’Alene city park. It is in a public space and, according to the group, open to everyone because what is sexual depravity worth if you can’t do it in public amirite?

The event was scheduled opposite another event called “Guns d’Alene,” which celebrates the Second Amendment and is generally opposed to the objectives of the “North Idaho Pride Alliance.” Other counterprotests, the “gay pride” event, were also anticipated.

This is how authorities framed the day.

Tony Stewart, secretary for the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, said groups have the right to peaceful assembly.

But he said someone can’t threaten, physically harass or confront another.

“A line is drawn you can’t cross,” he told The Press.

Stewart said if one group does try to shut down or intimidate another, he’s confident police will handle it.

“One group does not have the right to deny another group or disrupt what they are doing,” he said.

According to the ACLU, the ground rules laid out by Mr. Stewart are problematic, if not outright illegal.


When a small number of counterprotesters, who happened to be non-violent Christian evangelists, showed up, this is what happened.

At 0:49 in the above video, you can hear a cop tell the man, “do not come back, or you’re going to jail.” The police also spout some nonsense about a “powered” sound device being illegal; that is simply bullsh**. Courts have ruled that the type of sound amplification devices carried can’t be banned from a public space.

This is a cornucopia of First Amendment violations that should have been obvious to even the dimmest bulb involved. In 2012, the City of Dearborn, MI, paid out over $100,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Christian ministers who tried to preach the Gospel at a predominantly Muslim street festival. The City had restricted the ministers to the periphery of the event. A federal appeals court ruled that they had the right to preach and hand out literature inside the event. In addition to the money, the City of Dearborn was required to issue an abject apology.


While it is entirely understandable that the “pride” event would rather not have the truth and consequences of their aberrant lifestyle thrown in their faces and revealed to the unwitting participants who think that “drag queen story hour” and other grooming events are normal, they don’t have a right to hold the event on public property free of protest. They certainly don’t have the right to use Coeur d’Alene cops as stormtroopers to prevent them from getting their panties all wadded.

Last week I posted on the folly of blaming cops for using common sense and reflexively defending them with the “Back the Blue” worshipfulness; see Washington Post Tries to Make an Anti-Police Scandal of a Perfectly Reasonable Decision. As we saw during the COVID hysteria, police were more than willing to carry out any order they were given. Here is Sara Brady of Meridian, Idaho, being arrested and handcuffed for using a playground during a COVID lockdown.

One can sympathize with the desire of Coeur d’Alene police to keep opposing groups apart and perhaps avoid physical confrontations. One can sympathize with the efforts of police to prevent street crime by stopping and frisking potential offenders. Fortunately, we don’t yet live in an era where “pre-crime” is the law of the land. The “pride” bunch had the right to assemble and spread their message to whoever wished to listen; what they did not have a right to was government protection from a competing viewpoint.



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