Protesters arrested for supporting trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr: ‘We will not be silenced’
Protesters supporting trans politician Zooey Zephyr have been arrested at the Montana state capitol, after chanting support for the lawmaker, who has been blocked from speaking in the House.
Riot police blockaded a protest before making the several arrests of people crowding the capitol’s observation gallery on Monday (25 April).
A decision by state officials to effectively silence Zephyr on any future discussion of House bills after she told anti-trans politicians they have “blood on their hands” caused major controversy.
In a debate on 18 April before the final vote on the anti-trans bill SB99, also known as the Provide for a Youth Health Protection Act, Zephyr said that its exclusionary clauses, which would prevent gender-affirming care for under-18s, were “tantamount to torture.”
“If you disallow the use of the medical care that is accepted by every major medical association… the only therapy left is either meaningless or conversion therapy, which is torture,” she said at the time.
In response, Republican members of the House demanded the state government reprimand Zephyr in an open letter calling her speech “inappropriate and uncalled-for.”
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The following legislative session, House speaker Matt Regier blockaded the trans politician from speaking on future bills unless she publicly apologises.
Zephyr, many activists, and Montana politicians heavily criticised the move, saying that the decision was a slippery slope to “fascism.”
The controversy culminated in a hefty protest, where protestors chanted in support of Zephyr, leading to at least five arrests.
Crowd control units blockaded activists in the observation area, overlooking the politician as she held her switched-off microphone in the air as a symbol of her desire to speak in the House.
Meanwhile, outside of the state capitol, activists held a large sign across the building’s entrance that read “Democracy dies here”
Zooey Zephyr said she stands in “solidarity” with protestors in a statement, adding that she is “devoted to those who rise in defence of democracy.”
She added: “For the third consecutive day, I have been denied the opportunity to represent my constituents in the Montana legislature and to speak on their behalf.
“When my constituents and community members witnessed my microphone being disabled, they courageously came forward to defend their democratic right to be heard.
“I stood by them in solidarity and will continue to do so.”
Other politicians shared their support for Zephyr’s fight to be heard, with Minnesota representative Leigh Finke saying the community “will not be silenced.”
“We will never stop fighting for our futures,” she added.
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