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Meridian mayor responds to playground arrest: 'I think that we can all learn from the situation'

Meridian Mayor Robert Simison says the city will continue to operate under the governor's stay-at-home order.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — A Meridian woman made national headlines after she was arrested Tuesday at a closed playground.

Sara Brady, 40, was asked multiple times by Meridian Police officers to leave the Kleiner Park playground, which has been closed for weeks because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Police told us they got three separate phone calls about kids playing on the closed playground after someone removed signs and caution tape blocking it off. According to a video of the incident posted to YouTube, when police arrived to remind them of the closure, Brady argued with officers, questioning why the playground was closed.

She eventually refused to leave and the officer arrested her on a trespassing charge. That led to dozens of people protesting in front of Meridian City Hall Tuesday night.

It's worth noting here that Brady was not arrested for violating Idaho's statewide stay-at-home order; she was arrested for trespassing on a closed city playground.

RELATED: Meridian woman arrested during protest after refusing to leave a closed playground

Her arrest led to questions about new or stricter enforcement of social distancing in Meridian. 

KTVB spoke with Meridian Mayor Robert Simison about his reaction to Tuesday's incident, and what he will do moving forward.

Note: The interview has been edited for clarity. 

JOE PARRIS: Yesterday there was a lot of action in Meridian. We don't want to dwell on it but what's your overall reaction now that you've had some time to process what happened yesterday?

MAYOR ROBERT SIMISON: First of all I was glad that no one was hurt, and I think that we can all learn from the situation. It's important that people are able to stand up and do what they think is right, whether it's a boycott a lawful protest or civil disobedience. Sometimes when we do things, even if they are well-intentioned, it can lead to consequences. 

So, at the end of the day, I want the community to know that we want them to be able to do things safely. But, I also want the community to know that when they call on the Meridian Police Department to be there to keep Meridian safe, the Meridian Police Department will show up.

JP: A few weeks back you and I checked in about how things were going in Meridian about the stay at home rules how everyone was respecting it. With what happened yesterday, is there going to be changes to anything coming up in Meridian? Or, from your office's standpoint, everything stays the same? 

RS: We're going to continue to operate under the governor's order, as a community, but we are working to reopen the city and our business. I think we are all heeding his advice that said, be prepared at the end of this order to reopen and that's what we're trying to be focused on. It's not our intention to have our community, or our facility shut down any longer than necessary. But at the end of the day, we saw people out there who are in need and we need to focus on helping them. Whether that's they need to get their business back up and running, or their employees, or people that maybe are out of work and eat food from the foodbank. We don't want to be distracted on things that are not our main focus which is trying to get our community and the city reopen.

JP: As I'm sure you've seen and heard there are more, I guess, events like yesterday that are planned in Meridian and across the Treasure Valley. For the ones in Meridian if they want to go to other parks to have their, their protest. I guess how will you be handling that moving forward?

RS: I hope that if people are going to, as I talked about earlier, protests whether it's civil disobedience or just, a lawful gathering, we've answered they would work with our police department. We deal with this almost every day where we do have an active protest going on in Meridian, and we just want people to do things safely, when they do it. I think that's the number one thing.

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At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage and the latest COVID-19 case numbers, visit our coronavirus section here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus   

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