Police and protesters are preparing for a crowded rally as President Trump visits Great Falls on Thursday. It’s the first time a sitting president has spoken in the state since George W. Bush’s visit in 2005.
Cascade County Commissioner Jane Weber said she expects a high turnout, but the county feels prepared for the rally.
"I just hope that when people do come to this event, that everybody is respectful of everyone’s opinion. We’re in contentious times in our nation, and I think that everybody has the right to have their voice heard, and to be heard."
The Secret Service is coordinating with local authorities to ensure the event is safe for all who attend. Barriers have already been put in place outside the Four Seasons Arena to prepare for the event, and the Sheriff’s office is coordinating with authorities in nearby counties to maintain security.
Gates open at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, and President Trump is scheduled to speak at 4 p.m. Weber said the county is expecting long lines early in the day.
The Four Seasons Arena can hold 6,600 people, and a protest – called “Grab Him By the Hypocrisy” – is expecting over 1,000 participants. Weber said the protest will occur within view of the rally.
Laura Wight, organizer of the protest, said interest in the event has far surpassed her expectations, but she’s maintained a simple message:
"The point of the protest is supposed to be peaceful, and the idea that love and community trump hate."
Cascade County Commissioner Jane Weber said the event will come at some cost to the county, but she could not yet comment on the scope of this cost.