HELENA — A new grassroots organization has been created to help individuals and businesses challenge COVID mandates in Montana for what they call government overreach.
The Freedom Protection Project was created by the organizers of the “Let Freedom Ring” concert that was held at the beginning of October in the Helena Valley.
“A lot of other groups have tried to do things, and after we had the concert it kind of opened it up a lot more and really ballooned from there,” said Char Snyder, Freedom Protection Project board member. “We really thought we’d have the concert and things would die down, but we have had so many calls from other organizations that we couldn’t say no.”
The group recognizes that COVID is real, but argues the mandates are violating Constitutional rights and damaging the social well being of communities.
“As soon as you start enforcing healthy people in their homes, taking grandparents and people raising kids saying they’re too stupid to make their own decisions, that’s not right,” said Josh Steed, Freedom Protection Project director.
Steed added the mandates and restriction are contributing to depression, anxiety, and suicide rates.
Organizers also take issue with Governor Steve Bullock allocating CARES Act dollars for local governments to use for litigation against businesses not following mandates.
“We are fighting to defend all Montanans. Governor Bullock’s most recent offense allocates CARES Act Funds for police power and litigation against our small business owners. These funds were intended to support small business, not prosecute them,” said Jerry Steed, Freedom Protection Project president.
Organizers say the plan is to hear people’s stories and connect them with local attorneys and resources to fight back.
The Freedom Protection Project hosted events in Helena, Bozeman, Great Falls, and Billings on Tuesday, with events in Kalispell and Glendive planned for Wednesday.
The Freedom Protection Project says they are non-political and will aid anyone affected by COVID mandates. The group is being represented by Chris Gallus, who has previously represented conservative groups and individuals. Organizers say they were just seeking a Constitutional lawyer.