A mother in Idaho ended up in handcuffs after she and scores of other parents defied the state’s coronavirus lockdown to let their kids play at a Meridian park.
Sara Brady, a 40-year-old mother of two and wife of a police officer, was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing at Kleiner Park on Tuesday, an incident recorded on video that has since sparked protests at city hall, KBOI reports.
“I feel like I was signaled out because I was the only person that was arrested,” Brady said. “I wasn’t the only person standing on the bark. I definitely wasn’t playing on the playground equipment. I wasn’t swinging, never touched them. But yeah, I do feel like I was singled out and maybe it was because I asked too any questions.”
Video posted online shows two officers escorting Brady off the playground in handcuffs as other mothers confront the officers and record the scene.
“Are you kidding me?” one mother exclaims. “Why?”
“As a person, does this make sense to you?” another woman screamed. “As a person, not as a police officer, does this make sense to you?”
Others screamed threats and read the officers’ badge numbers out loud.
“You can’t arrest someone for being in a park!” one person yelled. “That’s illegal!”
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Meridian Police contend Brady forced their hand.
“After receiving several calls to Ada County Dispatch, Meridian Police responded to Kleiner Park on April 21 2020 at around 3:50PM. Upon arrival, officers saw that metal signage and caution tape announcing the playground closure due to COVID-19, was removed. Additionally, officers observed numerous individuals gathered on the closed playground area,” according to a news release.
“Officers informed those gathered several times that the play structure was closed, and that they were welcome to utilize other areas of the park if they chose. After being told to leave the playground multiple times, forty (40) year old Sarah BRADY of Meridian refused to leave and was arrested for one (1) count misdemeanor trespassing.”
Meridian police contend “officers made several attempts to help BRADY adhere to the rules.
“She was non-compliant and forced officers to place her under arrest to resolve the issue,” according to the news release.
Video footage seems to support the narrative.
Another clip posted online shows Brady arguing with the arresting officer, with Brady asking if police plan to arrest others in the park for “not social distancing.”
“Ma’am, you have five seconds,” the officer said, repeating numerous previous warnings to leave the playground.
“Arrest me for being in the park? Do it,” Brady insisted. “Record it!”
She seemed surprised when the officer put on the handcuffs.
“Am I being arrested or detained?” she questioned.
A woman recording the video yelled at the officers.
“Her kids are here! Her kids are here! What’s going to happen? Who’s got her kids?”
Other videos showed parents heckling police after the arrest, as city workers replaced the tape and signage on the playground.
The gathering and arrest were reportedly the product of a planned protest that circulated on Facebook.
“Melodie Brown there are a BUNCH of us taking our kids to Kleiner Park in Meridian today at 3 pm to tear the tape off the playground,” local parent Jennifer Paul posted to Facebook, according to The Blaze. “ANYONE can join us, kids or no kids, let’s take a stand!”
The playground protest spilled over to a protest at Meridian City Hall, where hundreds of locals raged over Brady’s arrest and the state’s stay-at-home order.
Those protestors also drew counter-protestors, who told KBOI they came out to tell their neighbors to go home.
“I came here today to stand against the fact that people were gathering,” resident Jamsey McRoberts said. “I want cities to open up. The governor, the mayor, the president, and everyone else should know that by social distancing we can still have normal lives.”
McRoberts told the news site that while he believes Brady was in the wrong, he doesn’t think she deserved to be arrested.