Eric Jochim

(KPAX) A group of supporters shouted "Let her speak" from the House gallery after a vote upholding House Speaker Matt Regier's decision not to recognize Rep. Zooey Zephyr of Missoula when she attempted to speak Monday afternoon.

Law enforcement cleared the gallery. Rep. Zephyr left the Hosue floor "to show support for those who were arrested defending democracy," according to a tweet.

Several individuals were arrested among approximately 100 protesters in the gallery. When protesters refused instructions to leave, law enforcement in riot gear continued making arrests and pushed the remaining protesters out of the gallery.

The exact number of people arrested and the charges they might face are not known at this time. Jurisdiction for the Capitol falls under the Montana Highway Patrol, but the arrested protesters will be processed at the Lewis and Clark Detention Center.

MTN News photo)
MTN News photo)

The House was back in session as of 4:37 p.m. MDT.

Tensions have escalated since the conservative Montana Freedom Caucus called for Representative Zephyr's censure following comments during a debate on amendments to a bill that would ban gender-affirming medical care for minors in the state.

During the debate Representative Zephyr told lawmakers that if they voted for the bill she said, "I hope the next time there is an invocation, when you bow your head in prayer, you see the blood on your hands."

While House Speaker Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, did not officially censure Zephyr, a transgender woman, Zephyr has not been allowed to speak on the house floors since last week.

At noon on Monday, supporters delivered a petition to Speaker Regier with more than 3,000 names in support of Zephyr. Supporters stretched the document from the Montana House to the capitol rotunda.