BOISE — Each noon hour for more than three months, a group of sign-wavers on State Street has been instigating a cacophony of honking near the Idaho Capitol.
“Honk for American values,” asks the group, which prefers to remain nameless — once you have a name, people ask, “Who’s paying you?” one demonstrator said. The group, primarily older folks, is nearing 100 consecutive days of one-hour demonstrations.
The sign-waving began after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests throughout the country.
“We said, ‘We got to do something,’” said Susan Multanen, one of the founding members. “We decided silence is complicity, maybe we can just speak out. So we made a few signs … we told our friends and neighbors, and we came down. People have joined us and had better ideas for signs, and so it just grew.”
One sign reads “honk for equality,” another says “protest must be persistent” and another proclaims “Idaho is too great to hate.”
Thomas Neale, who was waving the “honk for equality” sign on a recent afternoon, said some people don’t have equal opportunities “in this great American culture.”
“They’re getting left behind, whether they can’t get the best education available, they can’t get the best housing, they can’t get the best jobs,” Neale said. “We want everybody to get an equal shot, don’t matter what race or religion. We’re all Americans and we need to take care of each other.”
From noon to 1 p.m. every day, the group is downtown asking passersby to take notice of the signs. Many people honk in support, while a few have expressed displeasure using other gestures.
“It’s so affirming to have so many people respond positively,” Multanen said.
The group insists its aims are nonpartisan. In a guest opinion for the Idaho Press, founding member Jo Banks wrote, “We are not socialists. We are not communists. In this country, the power of the government comes from the people. We want people to be aware of what is going on, to educate themselves, and to be sure to vote.”
“Why are we there? The main reason for this daily journey is to create awareness and to remind people of some core values that unite us as Americans,” Banks wrote. “These include Equality, Justice, Truth, and Common Good created by citizens working together. These come from our Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and other key national documents. It’s more important now than ever that we don’t forget them.”
What started as about half a dozen friends and neighbors has grown to a few dozen. “We’ll have 100 people out here yet,” Gary Multanen, Susan’s husband, said confidently.
The group plans to continue demonstrating until Nov. 3, Election Day.