HELENA – Over the last few days, many Montanans have weighed in on the altercation between U.S. Representative-elect Greg Gianforte and a journalist. Now, some community members are warning that some of those comments may be hurtful to victims of violence.

A group gathered Friday afternoon at Women’s Park in Helena, to read a statement saying comments supporting Gianforte after the incident were excusing the use of force. They argued that kind of thinking can lead to the normalization of violence in society.

“The justifications offered by many the last few days eerily echo the same justifications too often employed by abusers against their victims,” the statement said. “Such commentary conveys the view that harming others is acceptable. It is not.”

Melinda Reed read the statement. She and the other participants took part as private citizens, but many belong to organizations, like Helena’s Friendship Center, that work closely with victims of domestic and other forms of violence.

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Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton noted that the fatal shooting of Broadwater County Deputy Mason Moore last week may have followed a domestic violence incident. Court documents say suspect Marshall Barrus attacked his family at a campground near Canyon Ferry Lake before leaving with his father. The two men are accused of killing Moore several hours later.

“When you allow your emotions to take over, and you think that it’s okay that you can kill somebody for what you think is right, we need to stop that,” Dutton said. “That is not Montana; we don’t want it to be Montana.”

City Commissioner Andres Haladay also took part in Friday’s event. He was among 28 community members who signed the group’s statement.

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Jonathon Ambarian grew up in Southern California, and graduated from the University of Montana in Missoula. He first came to Helena in 2013 as a radio reporter, then returned in 2016 to join the Montana Television Network. He's proud to bring viewers in Helena stories about the issues that affect them.