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Idaho Statehouse Descends Into Chaos Amid Protests Over COVID Law

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Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy was arrested Wednesday for the second time in two days at the Idaho Statehouse.

Idaho State Police put Bundy in a wheelchair and removed him from the Senate gallery. He did not appear to be injured as he was wheeled from the Statehouse and through underground tunnels to a police vehicle.

Bundy, who led the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, was arrested Tuesday after he refused to leave a committee room.

Lawmakers had abandoned the room hours earlier after a crowd of angry protesters shouted them down and forced them out.

At least two others were arrested after they also refused to follow police commands to leave.

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The incidents follow another on Monday when protesters forced their way into the Idaho House gallery, the window of a glass door getting shattered as protesters jostled with police.

Protesters were ultimately allowed in when Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke stepped in, seeking to avoid violence.

Lawmakers are meeting in a special session called by Republican Gov. Brad Little because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bundy and other protesters are opposed to a proposed liability law intended to shield schools, businesses and government entities from lawsuits from people who get COVID-19.

Do you support Idaho's proposed COVID liability law?

Tuesday’s unrest started when the committee chairman, Republican Rep. Greg Chaney, directed two people sitting in an area reserved for credentialed members of the media to leave those seats.

“I’m not sure precisely what their goal is, but I’m absolutely sure that the two individuals whom I asked to leave were intending to create a scene,” he said.

“At times in the last 24 to 36 hours, this building has descended into complete chaos, and the only way to make sure that all citizens feel comfortable coming here to be heard is to make sure that we don’t allow rule deviations in general.”

The committee considering that legislation left the meeting room as at least a dozen Idaho State Police formed a shield between them and the crowd of more than 100.

Bundy took one of the credentialed media seats after lawmakers left the room. He said he hadn’t instructed anyone to disrupt the meeting, and he challenged those who qualified as credentialed members of the media.

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“What does credentialed mean? Who is the freedom of the press for? Those who have credentials? No, it’s not,” he told The Associated Press.

“The freedom of the press is a protection for the people. Your credentials are great … but the fact is the government is not supposed to say this person has the freedom of the press and has a right to be in a certain place and these people don’t.”

The committee convened later in the day in a different room with heavy security and approved a public hearing for the liability legislation.

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