PHILIPSBURG – The tensions that have reared their ugly head across the nation came to Granite County Monday night, but those participating in the protest stated their message effectively without incident or altercation.
The protest was in support of George Floyd who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota May 25, 2020. The video of his arrest and death quickly circumvented the globe and has inspired widespread protesting across the country and throughout the world, many of which had devolved into violent confrontations between the participants and law enforcement officers.
Monday’s protest in Philipsburg was peaceful, with no incidents of violence reported according to Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson. “It was all peaceful. Nothing to report and I’m good with that.”
A crowd of about 50 people walked the streets of Philipsburg, starting on the Western end of the business district before gathering at Bear Park for some from a few speakers. One speaker was resident Ben Johnson, who had trouble gather his emotions before thanking the crowd and speaking.
The main speaker, an unknown woman, stated that “… black people make up less than a half a percent of Montana’s population, so when bad things are happening to them in other parts of the country it’s easy for us to sit back and turn the other cheek … because it doesn’t affect us personally.”
Also on hand was Montana Senate candidate Mark Sweeney (D). Sweeney, who is is contending for the District 39 seat in the state legislature, captured images and video of the event. He graciously allowed the Flint Creek Courier to use his media for this story.
"It was an excellent turn out in Philipsburg and I was proud of our community for coming out after seeing the injustice that recently took place in Minneapolis to Mr. Floyd,” Sweeney told the Courier. “These are difficult divisive times in our nation but no one can watch that video and feel that justice was done. We all have a lot of work to do in our own communities. “I look forward to working in the Montana State Senate with anyone who wants to make a difference and make sure everyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or anything else is treated fairly in the eyes of the law and that justice is handed out in a courtroom and nowhere else."
Sweeney also noted that a petition was being circulated to have a noose removed from its display at the Granite County Sheriff's Department building. The noose hangs in a window facing the street at the top of a tower on the jail and is visible to all passersby.
Video from Monday's protest. Images and video courtesy of Mark Sweeney.