Protesters gathered outside the Capitol in Helena on Sunday afternoon to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis several days ago. Organizers estimate close to 100 people arrived on the sidewalks of the Capitol building. Some of the participants held "Black Lives Matter" signs and held an 8-minute silent protest.
A short time later, scores of people gathered along the Central Avenue West bridge in Great Falls. Great Falls organizer Jasmine Cassandra Taylor said that the issue isn't limited to just one town or community: "This is not an issue limited to one city. This is an issue throughout our entire country. Racism is killing innocent black people and people of color all over our country. And if we are silent about it, we're enabling it, and we're letting it continue. This is absolutely the least we can do to try to stop these things from happening again."
Although only scheduled to last half an hour, the protest continued over three times as long, as passionate community members stood firmly in support of their stance. More than 100 protesters lined the sides of the bridge, many of them holding hand-written signs, with phrases like “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe.”
Attendees raised their voices for passing cars to hear and raised their signs for passersby to see.
One protester of 91 years, Dorothy Starshine, held a sign that read “ALL ARE SACRED." Starshine had been active in protests like these since the Iraq War and took it upon herself to take a stand against discrimination when she saw that others were being treated as inferiors.
“I grew up thinking America was a country that welcomed all people. And gave us - everyone- freedom...and I grew up thinking that everyone mattered. And the shocking part of this is how many people feel: some people don’t matter at all,” Starshine said.
Starshine holds firm to the belief that all humans are equal, irrespective of race. “Everyone makes a contribution to our lives. no one is superior. we’re all equal. whatever our skin color,” Starshine said.
Starshine said she has lived through countless periods of discrimination and protest and believes both peaceful protest and love can make a difference for the country. “I’m 91 and I just feel that America just needs to get back on track and recognize our real greatness is the love and care of everyone,” Starshine said.
She added that listening is just as important as protesting, when trying to get a message across. “Our emotions need to be recognized. Our feelings need to be recognized. My concern is nobody’s listening to them. And they have to riot in order to get anybody’s attention. And if we could just listen to them and their problems, they would not have to take to such extreme acts of aggression and violence. They need to be listened to and [have] action taken in care and support of them,” Starshine said.
Similar events have also been held in Billings, Missoula, and Bozeman over the last several days. All of the events have been peaceful, with no arrests or damage.
- Protesters gather outside of Billings Police Department
- Bozeman "Rally for Black Lives" draws more than 1,000
- Protesters rally in Missoula following death of George Floyd