BOISE — The Ada County emergency dispatch center received more than 300 phone calls after video of an anti-vaccine activist’s arrest at a Meridian playground in Idaho gained popularity on social media last month, records said.
After reviewing public records, the Idaho Statesman reported that some of the calls were supportive of the Meridian Police Department while others were critical and threatening.
Sara Walton Brady, 40, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespassing after she and several other people took their children to Julius Kleiner Park on April 21 to play on playground equipment closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.
Brady has since apologized to the police department.
Videos of the arrest were shared widely on social media. Some organizations including the Idaho Freedom Foundation and 3% of Idaho encouraged people to call the Meridian Police Department to voice their thoughts about the arrest, authorities said.
Ada County dispatch received hundreds of calls the day of and the day after the arrest, about 70 had Idaho area codes while the remaining were from out-of-state numbers such as California, Arizona, Texas and New Jersey.
Some callers questioned the nature of the arrest and filed complaints while others called to yell, curse or threaten the dispatchers and the department, according to records. Some comments compared officers to Nazis. In some cases, the abuse was so bad that dispatchers disconnected the calls and threatened legal action.
Not all the calls were negative. Some had called to maintain that the officers were professional in how they handled the incident.
The Ada County sheriff’s office oversees the dispatch center, which is responsible for handling 911 and non-emergency calls for all first responder agencies in the county. The sheriff’s office declined to comment on the calls.