Meridian woman who defied COVID measure at playground says she was ‘falsely arrested’

A Meridian anti-vaccination activist who was arrested in 2020 for allegedly trespassing at a closed playground during the coronavirus pandemic has filed a tort claim against the city, arguing she was wrongfully arrested while exercising her constitutional rights.

Sara Walton Brady faced a trespassing charge after she refused to leave Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park when it was closed because of COVID-19 concerns, the Idaho Statesman previously reported. Now, Brady is asking the city of Meridian for $500,000 for what she said was a wrongful arrest.

Brady pleaded not guilty to trespassing in 2020, and Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador dismissed the charge shortly after taking office this year. The tort claim also names the Idaho secretary of state and Ada County clerk.

“I was unconstitutionally and falsely arrested while lawfully standing in a public park exercising my constitutional rights,” Brady said in the tort claim. “I was then prosecuted for trespassing, which cost me tens of thousands of dollars.”

Brady was known for running the Facebook group Idahoans for Vaccine Freedom and pushing for parental rights to refuse vaccines, both at the West Ada School District and Idaho Capitol.

A tort claim is a civil claim made against a state or local government for a wrongful or negligent act. A tort claim is a precursor to a lawsuit, but not all plaintiffs follow up unanswered claims by suing.

In an email, city officials said if the tort claim turns into a lawsuit they are confident in the legal process.

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