Montana Public Radio

protests

 

Protests against how the state and federal government is handling coronavirus have surged across the country and in Montana. Most recently, animal rights protestors gathered outside Rocky Mountain Labs in Hamilton where scientists are hard at work on a vaccine. But public opposition to scientific efforts has a long history in Montana. 

(L-R) Shaley Hall, London Marq and  Ja'Ton Simpson spoke during a Black Lives Matter rally in Missoula, June 14, 2020.
Sofia Stuar-Rasi / Montana Public Radio

A rally in Missoula Sunday drew hundreds to decry the presence of armed vigilantes at racial justice demonstrations. The gathering was spurred after one person was allegedly harassed and attacked by a group of armed individuals during a protest held at the county courthouse over a week ago.


A Black Lives Matter event in Billings this weekend drew around 2,000 people who rallied in support of racial equality and justice for people of color victimized by law enforcement. Speakers talked about their experiences being Black in Montana.

Editor's note: YPR News is chosing not to bleep a racial slur in quotes in this story because we think it provides important context into the racism Black people experience in Montana.

Justin and his buddies look like they're from a special ops team: They're wearing military-style vests and carrying rifles and pistols. But they aren't military, and they aren't police.

"I see myself as a concerned citizen who happens to be armed," he says.

They won't give their last names, citing safety and job security. But on a recent evening they are standing watch over about 200 protesters at a rally about the death of George Floyd in Missoula, Mont.

Hundreds of people lie on N 27th St. and Second Ave. N in protest of police brutality at the Justice for George Floyd & Black, Indigenous and People of Color In Our Community/World in Billings June 7, 2020.
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

Over the past week thousands of people across Montana turned out for locally-organized rallies in support of black Americans and against police brutality. The rallies drew disparate crowds, and while talk got heated at times, the events remained non-violent.

The Billings Police Department said at a press conference Thursday that it will do its utmost to ensure a safe and peaceful Sunday rally for racial equity and nonviolence in police interactions. Organizers in several Montana cities are planning events this week.

The locally-organized Billings event is part of a string of nationwide protests against racial violence in the days following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in Minneapolis police custody.

People protest at the Missoula Courthouse, June 2, 2020. The death of George Floyd, a black man while being arrested in Minnesota spurred protests across the country.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

There is no evidence to substantiate widespread rumors that outside agitators are planning to stir up trouble in Missoula, according to the city’s police chief and its mayor.

Protesters at the Missoula courthouse June, 2, 2020. The death of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota killed while in police custody, spurred protests across the country.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

Protests in Montana over the death of George Floyd have remained peaceful, unlike others seen in large cities across the country. Montana police officers say they want to keep it that way, and denounce the excessive use of force by law enforcement. At the same time, public health officials are trying to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as groups gather.

Updated at 11:44 a.m. ET

One week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody, demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism continued across the United States. Many cities imposed curfews, and President Trump again warned he would order active duty military forces to restore order if state and local governments, in his judgement, failed to do so.

Here are details of some protests around the country.

St. Louis

Updated at 10:33 a.m. ET

President Trump, in a conference call Monday with the nation's governors, threatened to deploy the U.S. military to restore order unless states hit by days of unrest "put down" violent demonstrations, urging leaders to "dominate" lawbreakers or risk looking like "a bunch of jerks."

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