UPDATE: Protesters briefly occupy Missoula GOP offices

Posted at 6:59 PM, Oct 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-05 23:45:50-04

MISSOULA – A group of around 30 protesters with Missoula Rises and the Western Montana Democratic Socialists of America (Western MT-DSA) rallied at the offices for the Republican Party of Missoula on Brooks Street Friday in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Missoula Police were called at 1:54 p.m. when office managers say they saw protesters on the roof attempting to hang banners from the side of the building, but the protesters were not on top of the building when police arrived.

Instead, 8 of the DSA members sat inside the building and refused to leave.

Office manager Kelsey Koolie says she was leading a business meeting when protesters entered the building.

“I have no problem with them assembling. That’s the reason that we are strong constitutional Conservatives and that we believe in the Constitution. It is the right to your freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble,” Koolie said. “But this is not the case. They are in a private building. They interrupted my business operations for the day. I told them you’re more than welcome to organize outside protest outside. I have no issue with that. That’s your right as a citizen but not to do it inside my office.”

There was a peaceful discussion between the group and the police, and the group did eventually leave the building.

All 8 that chose to go inside of the office were cited for criminal trespassing.​ The entire event transpired in a little over an hour.

Western Montana DSA Organizer, Tootie Welker, said they chose their location because its about more than just this one issue.

“For us, it’s not just Steve Daines and while right now we’re upset about Kavanaugh, it’s just the whole lack of democratic processes that were upset with,” Welker said.

Missoula Rises issued a press release ahead of Friday’s rally, denouncing what they called the Republican Party’s “callous” treatment of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford after she came forward with her allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh.

“Mr. Bret Kavanaugh has proven he does not have the temperament necessary to be a Judge and after his performance at the hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford he showed that he would bring an overt partisan voice to the US Supreme Court, forever tarnishing the people’s support in its rulings. He is the wrong choice for a lifetime appointment and we will work to unseat anyone who votes for him,” Missoula Rises said in their release.

After the protest, Montana Republican Party Chair Debra Lamm issued a statement saying “The people of Montana stand behind Brett Kavanaugh and we’re going to confirm him to the Supreme Court!”

— story and video by Lauren Heiser – MTN News