UPDATE 4:49 p.m. - April 25, 2023
HELENA - 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 when she attempted to speak Monday afternoon.
Law enforcement cleared the gallery. Rep. Zephyr left the House floor "to show support for those who were arrested defending democracy," according to a tweet.
I have stepped off the house floor to show support for those who were arrested defending democracy.— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) April 24, 2023
I will be back as soon as I can.
MTN's John Riley reported from the House chambers that several individuals have been arrested among approximately 100 protesters in the gallery.
Members of the Montana Highway Patrol and House Sergeant at Arms gave protesters multiple warnings to clear 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.
Seven individuals were arrested for criminal trespass and were transported to the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center.
Sheriff Leo Dutton told MTN once the individuals were booked, they were then released without requiring bond.
The House was back in session as of 4:37 p.m. MDT.
Rep. @ZoAndBehold attempted to speak on the floor. After the House voted to uphold @RepMattRegier’s decision not to recognize her, people in the gallery began chanting “Let her speak!” Law enforcement is now clearing the gallery. #MtNews #MTPol #Mtleg pic.twitter.com/7yv6b02WdL— Jonathon Ambarian (@JSAmbarian) April 24, 2023
Happening now: people shouting “Let her speak!” from the Montana House gallery after House Speaker Regier doesn’t call on Rep. Zephyr. Regier calls for Sgt. at Arms to clear gallery. Live stream now muted. #mtnews #mtpol— Maritsa Georgiou (@MaritsaGeorgiou) April 24, 2023
On Monday, supporters of MT Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D- Missoula, delivered a petition to Montana House Speaker Matt Regier's office urging the Speaker to recognize Representative Zephyr on the Montana House Floor.
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.
This is a developing story, follow MTN for updates throughout the afternoon.