Note: we are republishing this story to highlight our coverage of incidents involving the 1st amendment and freedom of speech in America.
Hundreds of people lined up outside Big City Coffee in Downtown Boise to support the business following the owner’s decision to close down a second branch on the Boise State University campus.
The conflict between the University and the coffee shop started after several students at the campus slammed the company over the “Thin Blue Line” flag hung up at the downtown shop.
The owner of the store, Sarah Fendley, posted on social media that the flag was displayed to show her support for the police and Boise Police Cpl. Kevin Holtry, her fiancé who had been shot in the line of duty in 2016.
University officials stated that the owners of the business asked to be let out of the contract, and the university honored those wishes.
Fendley’s fiancé, Holtry, stated that he had been "blown away" by the huge turnout.
He told KTVB: "This is really touching and it's been a very amazing day - I've been here for two-and-a-half hours and it's been like this the entire time. It shows what a great community we have, and what people really think and what people - how they live and how they support, not just first responders but local businesses and people who really commit their lives to Boise."
Holtry stated that the coffee shop’s decision to get out of the contract was because of the "extremely small vocal minority" on the campus.
"There's this misconception that [Fendley] left of her own free will, which is actually not even a half- truth, probably an eighth-truth, because she knew darn good and well that she wasn't going to get the support," Holtry added.
A KTVB photographer present at the scene stated that none of the people who had shown up at the coffee shop seemed to be adhering to social distancing rules, and just a few were wearing face masks.
Boise Police spokeswoman Haley Williams stated that officers would not be responding to the scene, despite the city's mask mandate. However, before 12:30 p.m., she changed her statement and said that officers would be dispatched to the coffee shop to speak with the owner.
She said: "When it comes to masks we hope people will take the need to wear one seriously and we are focused on education first and foremost. We are not encouraging people to call in complaints on individuals. If there is a complaint over masks and the situation turns confrontational or there is further disregard for public safety then we tell people to call police. Again, we have not received any complaints or calls for service at Big City Coffee."
She stated that the city’s police would not be able to respond to every single complaint about breaking the city’s social distancing and mask mandate
"We cannot go respond to every group gathering and break it up," she stated.