Riot police have descended on Montana's capitol after left-wing protestors disrupted proceedings in the state House of Representatives in support of transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr, a Democrat, who was censured by the body last week, multiple reports have said.
According to The Independent, an unknown number of protestors were arrested Monday when police units from the Montana Highway Patrol and the Lewis and Clark County sheriff’s office commenced an operation to break up the group packing the observation gallery of the House chamber.
The group chanted, "Let her speak!" for "nearly half an hour," according to another report, bringing the session to a halt in support ending the censure against Zephyr.
Zephyr, a bisexual and the first transgender lawmaker in Montana legislature history, drew criticism Tuesday after telling Republicans during a House floor debate on amendments to Senate Bill 99, which would prohibit sex change treatment for minors, that they have "blood on (their) hands," a notion the lawmaker hopes will be present in their prayers.
"The only thing I will say, is if you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments, I hope the next time there’s an invocation when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands," Zephyr said referencing the body's opening prayer.
Zephyr's comments lead to the House voting in favor of the lawmaker's censure on Thursday, citing "hate-filled testimony."
"I want to be clear: no amount of silencing tactics will deter me from standing up for the rights of the transgender community," Zephyr said following the censure. "I will not apologize for speaking with clarity and precision about the harm these bills cause. Montana Republicans say they want an apology, but what they really want is silence as they take away the rights of trans and queer Montanans."
The bill ultimately passed both the state House and Senate, and was sent to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte's desk on Friday. He is expected to sign the bill into law.
Fox News' Kyle Morris contributed to this report.