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Small Group Continues Protest At Gallatin County Health Officer's Home

Handwritten signs propped up on the ground read "End the tyranny, restore Bill of Rights" and "We refuse to be your experiment."
John Lamb, Facebook
A screenshot from a Facebook livestream taken Dec. 7, 2020 shows signs from a protest against health orders enacted to try to slow the spread of the COVID-19 illness held at the home of the Gallatin County health officer.

Montana reported 859 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and 21 more deaths, the most in a single day since late November. Meanwhile, a small group spent its 13th morning protesting coronavirus related restrictions outside the Gallatin City County health officer’s home.

“Do you believe in the Bill of Rights? Do you believe in freedom?”

That’s a Facebook Live clip of protestors arguing with a driver outside Gallatin City County Health Officer Matt Kelley’s home. The video’s creator, John Lamb, said in an interview that protestors are mainly concerned with mandates tied to business closures in the area.

Lamb, a Libertarian who unsuccessfully ran for a state Senate seat this year, says restrictions meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus should be retracted and instead passed off as recommendations like you’d receive during a weather report.

“This isn’t a pandemic. This is just an overblown disease and there’s no need to lock society down or businesses, and threaten them with drastic measures like this,” Lamb said.

A peer-reviewed study published by the journal Nature in June found that local, regional and national coronavirus related restrictions averted hundreds of millions of COVID-19 cases.

Public health officials pleading for Montanans to take the virus seriously continue to face pushback. Multiple health officers have resigned or plan to during the pandemic, including Flathead County’s Tamalee St. James Robinson, who said county officials ignored basic recommendations and have failed to protect the community.

In Gallatin County, John Lamb said he’ll continue to protest outside Health Officer Matt Kelley’s house every day until at least the Dec. 15, when a hearing is set for a Bozeman bar being sued by the county for intentionally remaining open past 10 P.M.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Monday that police are monitoring the protests, which neighbors have complained about.

The newspaper also reported about 80 people lined Bozeman’s Main Street last week in support of Kelley.

Kelley said he was humbled by the wellwishers when asked about them during a Dec. 4 news conference.

“It was a nice way to end the day, and most importantly for my wife and kids. I signed up for this in some ways; they didn’t,” Kelley said.