Man involved in scuffle during Women’s March headed to trial
DRIGGS — A Teton Valley man who was involved in an altercation on the roadway at the Women’s March in January is taking his case to trial next month.
Greg Geffner, 62, is charged with disturbing the peace and obstructing highways.
Geffner was involved in a physical altercation with the driver of a pickup, who was also charged with obstructing highways, disturbing the peace, as well as battery. That case is also scheduled for a trial in July.
This week, Geffner’s attorney, Chris Lundberg, argued to have some of Geffner’s charges dismissed.
“His presence on the roadway was a core part of his message at that time,” explained Lundberg, adding that the state had a burden to prove why their case could move forward, since it involved curtailing Geffner’s constitutional rights.
“It seems to me that the state has an interest in making sure the traffic flows through the town,” replied Idaho Magistrate Judge Jason Walker. “An individual who usurps everybody else’s rights and impedes that traffic—it seems like the state has an interest in trying to prevent that from happening.”
Teton County Deputy Prosecutor Lindsey Blake said that the state’s case was not interested in the content of Geffner’s words and actions, but on where they allegedly crossed the line into breaking state statutes.
“The argument is essentially he is standing in the road to demonstrate, he gets a citation for standing in the road, therefore he must have gotten the citation for demonstrating, and that’s a violation of his right,” explained Blake. “Going along that line of reasoning would be opening the door for anyone to do pretty much anything and say that was the only way to get my point across.”
In April, Geffner submitted an affidavit explaining his conduct at the Women’s March.
“In my opinion and belief, a walk takes place on a sidewalk, and a march… occurs in the street,” Geffner wrote. “My conscience would not allow me to simply walk along the sidewalk and not bring the attention and awareness to the protest that in my belief could only be achieved by peacefully marching in the street.”
Geffner compared his actions to Rosa Parks, the Boston Tea Party and the March on Selma.
“The only way that social and political progress has been made has come when people take to the streets,” he wrote. “I believe we have an obligation to speak truth to power, to reach out and engage our community in an active political discourse, and not simply huddle together on a crowded sidewalk and whimper amongst ourselves about our plight and take no meaningful action to bring our grievances into the public forum.”
Walker delayed deciding on the motion to dismiss, offering both sides a week to submit additional arguments.
“There’s no way in the world that I will let the state pursue anything against his political speech,” Walker said. “The extent that he crossed the line from political speech to criminal conduct—that’s fair game…that’s the focus we’re going to have in this trial… we’re going to talk about the conduct that is or isn’t criminal in nature.”
Geffner’s trial is scheduled to begin June 15.
This article was originally published in the Teton Valley News. It is used here with permission.