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Thousands gather across Idaho for vigils and protests

Idahoans came together in peaceful protests and vigils across the state Tuesday evening in honor of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of police in Minneapolis last week.

Thousands took to the Idaho State Capitol in Boise, filling the steps and the surrounding parklands for a vigil to remember African Americans killed in recent years, many by police. A speaker read the names of the dead and the crowd repeated the names in unison.

One of the organizers, Boise resident Tai Simpson, said the gathering was about healing.

"We've lost so many hundreds of lives in Idaho and across the country at the hands of police violence and police brutality that it's important we stop to recognize that we're all connected in community," she said. "When one of us dies a part of each of us dies."

In the Wood River Valley thousands of residents marched in the streets of Bellevue, Ketchum and Hailey, according to organizer Sarah Sentilles.

Click 'play' to hear the audio version of this story.

"Our local police knelt with us. It was powerful," she said.

In Twin Falls, a few hundred people stood in a downtown park for a peaceful candlelight vigil that was organized by community members of color.

“There’s been a massive loss of life, and so we’re trying to bring the focus back to that," one organizer Savina Barini told Boise State Public Radio in an interview.

Barini, a playwright, Twin Falls resident and recent graduate of Howard University, said racial injustice might seem like a far off problem to some people in Twin Falls, but "it has to be our problem."

"The thing that we share with all other people is our humanity," she said. "Whether we are from Twin [Falls] or from New York or from Louisville or Minneapolis, we all share it."

Barini spoke at the vigil, as did other organizers, students and Twin Fall Police Chief Craig Kingsbury. 

"As your Chief of Police, I'm sorry," Kinsgbury said. "I see you, I hear you, I will do better." 

Most attendees were wearing masks; organizers also supplied extra. 

Find reporters Rachel Cohen and Heath Druzin on Twitter @racheld_cohen and @HDruzin

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I cover environmental issues, outdoor recreation and local news for Boise State Public Radio. Beyond reporting, I contribute to the station’s digital strategy efforts and enjoy thinking about how our work can best reach and serve our audience. The best part of my job is that I get to learn something new almost every day.
Heath Druzin was Boise State Public Radio’s Guns & America fellow from 2018-2020, during which he focused on extremist movements, suicide prevention and gun culture.

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