HELENA — Protesters are planning to demonstrate against COVID-19 restrictions and closures with the “Montana Liberty Rally” outside of the Capitol building on Sunday April 19 at 1:00 p.m.
The planned demonstration comes after similar protests in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and others areas across the country.
The plan in Helena is to practice social distancing, keep the noise down for nearby neighborhoods, and pray.
"We want to keep it peaceful," said Anne Cameron, co-organizer for the rally. "And I understand that some people are angry. But if you act out of anger, you're going to send the wrong message. It's frustrating to a lot of us seeing our Constitution metaphorically stomped on. I mean, we're Americans, we have rights. Suggestions, guidance, recommendations, that's one thing. But order. As far as as these small businesses, every business is essential. Every business is essential to somebody."
At a news conference on Friday, Governor Steve Bullock was asked what he would say to those attending the rally. "I'd say what I think I've said throughout, not just as a governor but as a past and a member of these communities," Bullock said. "I want things opened up as soon as we can from the perspective of doing it safely and doing it in a way that we will be able to build off of the strengths of Montana and our economy not set us back."
The state is not issuing Capitol Complex Event Permits at this time, so the protesters are planning to walk around the Capitol on the sidewalk.
Helena Police Chief Steve Hagen met with the organizers of the rally on Thursday to discuss what they plan, and what is expected of the protesters in regards to social distancing and safety.
Organizers told police they plan to follow social distancing orders and intend to be respectful to the residents that live in the area.
Hagen asks that anyone attending the Sunday rally be respectful of others and differing opinions. “Everyone involved is a little bit anxious, so just show some respect,” said Hagen.”The only time we’re going to be involved is if it becomes a dangerous situation, or if they’re violating that social distancing. We’ll go and give them a warning like we would with any other group of people.”
You can learn more about the demonstration on the Montana Liberty Rally Facebook page.
Bullock said during on Friday that he’s working on a “phased reopening” of Montana, provided that the state meets key metrics that show the spread of COVID-19 is slowing. Click here to read more.