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By John Dowd 

Varied reactions at T. Falls protest

 

John Dowd

SHOWING SUPPORT - Trinity Godfrey (left) organized a peaceful protest Sunday at the Sanders County Courthouse.

Residents gathered on Main Street in Thompson Falls on Sunday to express their opinions about current events across the country. Though there were two groups organized, they shared the same opinion that all lives matter.

A small protest was organized by 19-year-old Trinity Godfrey of Thompson Falls on Sunday. Godfrey announced the gathering on Facebook and posted flyers around town.

When Godfrey and a few friends showed up outside the Sanders County Courthouse, she stated that many others did not come out in fear of physical retribution after threats were made on social media. The two groups stood across the street from one another in front of the courthouse. There were even many spectators with binoculars posted above, along Preston Avenue, to watch the ongoings.

One side, along the curb of the courthouse, stood for equality and the equal treatment of all. According to Godfrey, they were there to "bring more awareness to murdered and missing indigenous women and police brutality," along with showing support to many groups that they believe are being mistreated and not being given the dignity that they deserve. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and FBI statistics, Native Americans make up just 8% of Montana's population, however, contribute to over 26% of the states missing person cases. According to the Justice Department, Native American women have a one in three chance to experience rape or attempted rape, which is more than twice the national average.

Godfrey went on to explain that their presence was in no way affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement and she believes that all lives matter, a comment that many people in Thompson Falls made on Sunday. "We just want to spread more love," and "our protest has nothing to do with politics," Godfrey said.

According to Godfrey's grandmother Cheryl, who also attended the protest, there is another problem in this country that is often overlooked regarding Native American women. There are many women being abducted and sold into black market slavery and very little can be done. Cheryl also explained that Trinity "saw the Black Lives Matter movement and I think she got tired of hearing only black lives matter, and she wanted to do something to show that all lives matter." Cheryl was accompanied by her son who was there armed with a modern rifle for her protection.

On the other side, opposite the courthouse, were several armed citizens, expressing their right to possess and maintain arms. Many were armed with AR-15s and shotguns. The group was also there to protest against what they misunderstood to be a protest for black lives only, and the perpetuation of misinformation from the media against their own views. They said, again, that they believe that all lives matter. Bill Joner, from Thompson Falls, said, "I am tired of the way this Black Lives Matter is tearing the country apart. In my opinion all lives matter."

Joner went on to explain how he believes that the Black Lives Matter movement has been hijacked by violent groups intent on creating dissension within the country. He also wanted to stand with the police, however he also said that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy. Many others commented on how they believe that there should be reform among the police. However, many of the same also mentioned that there are far more good cops than bad. The prevalent "apple out of the bunch" cliché was mentioned several times by those in attendance.

The group talked about how the idea of "defunding the police" scares them. A few mentioned how little the police earn and how decreasing funding will further perpetuate the problem, forcing departments to lower pay and with it their expectations demanded from perspective new officers. It could also limit the training that the police would receive, especially regarding social skills that are uniquely required by situations officers can find themselves in attendees stated.

 

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