BOISE, Idaho — Boise Mayor Lauren McLean condemned the actions of counter-protesters she says are at fault for the fights and volatility that broke out at Tuesday night's rally outside City Hall.
The protest, during which demonstrators called for some of the money allocated to the Boise Police Department to be redistributed to other social services, drew hundreds of people to the downtown streets.
The crowd was made up of supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as counter-protesters who oppose changes to the police department's funding.
Capitol Boulevard was shut down to traffic because of the crowds. Although the dual demonstrations began peacefully, tensions escalated and several fights, shoving matches and angry exchanges of words broke out between the two groups.
According to the City of Boise, some protesters were physically assaulted during the event. KTVB's Misty Inglet was also spit on by a man who yelled "f-- the media" at her.
Black Lives Matter protestors, counterprotesters gather outside Boise City Hall
The mayor released a statement Wednesday morning condemning the violence and laying the blame for the clashes at the feet of counter-protesters - some of whom were chanting racist slogans, she said.
Some members of the counterprotest carried guns, while several others wore clothing with Nazi insignia. Another sported a large tattoo of a swastika.
"Last night our community witnessed – and many of our residents experienced – physical violence and intimidation by counter protesters during a Black Lives Matter protest at City Hall," McLean said in the statement. "Peaceful protest was the goal of the protesters who gathered – to speak their truths and call on us as leaders to take action. We have a right to do this, without intimidation and fear of violence, and it’s movements like we see right now that have spurred progress throughout our history."
"In recent weeks on Tuesday evenings, protesters have assembled at City Hall and called for action. I’ve stepped into the crowd to listen when I can. Last night’s gathering would have been similar if not for the efforts to intimidate, and potentially incite additional violence, by counter protesters," McLean's statement continued. "I condemn those who showed up in our community under the guise of 'protection' and instead intimidated, shouted epithets and white nationalist slogans, and in some case physically assaulted protesters. There is no room for this in our city. There is no room for this in our democratic society that enshrines the right to protest peacefully, dialogue constructively, and come together to build a stronger and more just community."
Boise Police say officers broke up several fights during the event, but made no arrests. Charges are still possible against those who acted violently, however, the department said in a Wednesday statement.
"BPD does not condone acts of violence. In anticipating a rally or protest similar to those experienced here recently, the amount of confrontation that we saw last night was unprecedented here in Boise. Based on resources available at the scene, we did not make physical custody arrests last night," the department's statement reads. "We are, however, following up on reported incidents and reviewing video to pursue charges and hold people accountable for any criminal actions conducted during the protests. We hold dear people’s rights to peacefully assemble and exercise their first amendment rights. We regret if people did not feel safe protesting last night and know it’s our job to ensure a safe environment for everyone."