Connect with us


Prosecutors drop charges against demonstrators at the Montana Capitol



Helena, Montana — Prosecutors are attempting to get all of the defendants’ charges against them dropped four months after a disorderly protest at the Montana State Capitol resulted in seven people being detained.

The protest was sparked by a disagreement between Rep. Zooey Zephyr, a Democrat from Missoula, and the House Republican leadership during the 68th session of the Montana Legislature. When the defendants refused to leave the state House chambers, police had to remove them and charge each of them with misdemeanor trespassing.

Judges accepted requests last week from the county attorney’s office asking for all of the charges to be dropped without prejudice, according to Lewis and Clark County Justice Court confirmation.

The protest on April 24 temporarily halted House floor proceedings. Zephyr was supported by demonstrators at the Capitol when House Speaker Rep. Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, repeatedly declined to acknowledge her as a speaker. When Zephyr, a transgender woman, declared during a floor discussion that lawmakers should be ashamed and would have “blood on their hands” for adopting a measure outlawing gender-affirming medical operations for transgender children, Republican leaders said she had broken the principles of decency.

From the House gallery, Zephyr’s supporters shouted and chanted “Let her speak!” during the daily floor session on April 24. Red gloves were thrown on the ground by some. Zephyr stood at her desk with her microphone raised above her head as Regier halted the meeting and ordered the gallery emptied.

Eventually, law enforcement personnel arrived and drove the protesters away. Seven people were detained and charged while several were handcuffed.

The dismissal requests are dated August 14 and come from the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s office. Only one phrase appears in each motion: “Dismissal is in the best interests of justice.”

In a statement posted on social media, Zephyr referred to the choice as a “victory for democracy.”

“To all those who were arrested at the protest: I am grateful for your dedication to democracy and overjoyed to see that the charges against you were dropped,” she said. “When I find the strength to stand up in the legislature, I do so knowing I am standing in solidarity with a long history of those who stood up to defend democracy. That history now includes each of you.”

Regier expressed his disappointment at the dismissals on Wednesday. He stated that he continues to view the protests as “riots,” just as he did in the immediate aftermath. He claimed that he was concerned about the message that not holding those who were arrested accountable would send.

“The victim here is the state of Montana, and the public that expects law and order in their Capitol,” he said.

According to Regier, many MPs want to see actions taken to stop this kind of disturbance in the sessions.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *