MISSOULA — The demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis continue in Missoula.
The sixth day of protests saw crowds lined along West Broadway in front of the Missoula County Courthouse, chanting slogans, holding signs, and bringing attention to last week's death of Floyd. Four police officers are facing charges for Floyd's death, and large demonstrations have been held in many communities across the country, with some people turning to looting, vandalism, and violence.
In Missoula, there are also some counter-protesters, who are displaying American flags, some carrying guns, and saying that they are guarding storefronts against potential looting.
Missoula Mayor John Engen told MTN News that he doesn’t believe the protests will become violent, as they have in some cities across the country. The Missoula Police Department said in a Facebook post that “despite several rumors of violent protest groups coming to Missoula, we have not been able to confirm any such information.” However, the city does have a contingency plan in place if needed.
Engen added that the Missoula Police Department plans to update its use of force and implicit bias training. He also made it clear that if any officer violates any policy, there will be consequences.
In response to rumors and social media posts that militant left-wing groups will disrupt Missoula's peaceful protests, Engen said, "We're prepared, but we don't perceive a threat today."
He also said he hopes the demonstrations will bring about change: "Violence unprovoked against any human being is not the business of a police force," Engen said.
During a City Council meeting on Monday, Engen said the city shares a collective outrage and concern over police brutality.
The Missoula Police Department plans to update its use of force and implicit bias training, according to Engen. He said, "I want people of color to know that they are safe in the hands of Missoula's finest."
Engen also made it clear that if any Missoula police officer violates any policy, there are consequences. "Our officers know that they're not above the law, and don't intend to be above the law," he said.
While some of the demonstrations in larger cities have been marred by violence, the protests in Missoula and other Montana communities have remained peaceful.
Similar events have also been held in Great Falls, Billings, Helena, and Bozeman over the last several days. All of the events have been peaceful, with no arrests or damage.
- Demonstrations in Great Falls and Helena
- Protesters gather outside of Billings Police Department
- Bozeman "Rally for Black Lives" draws more than 1,000
- Protesters rally in Missoula following death of George Floyd