HELENA — Members of the Montana Democratic Party met remotely on Friday to vote on the party's platform, including the addition of a statement in reaction by the death of George Floyd opposing the use of force by law enforcement during arrests.
James Reavis, a public defender from Helena, said he proposed the amendment "in light of the recent events that have really shaken our country in the last week," referring to Floyd's death while in police custody in Minneapolis and the ensuing protests across the U.S.
Sen. Diane Sands of Missoula, who led a Zoom meeting on the party's crime and justice platform, voiced support for the amendment.
"I think it is important that we address the current national situation," Sands said. "It's good to talk about it in here, and make sure that people know that's what we stand for.
The amendment states that the party opposes "unnecessary and dangerous 'use of force' methods when arresting or restraining persons suspected of committing a crime."
The convention was held remotely for the first time, with amendments passed during Zoom sessions and voting on the party platform conducted online.
"This convention definitely looks a little different than the last one I attended," said Melissa Romano, Democratic nominee for superintendent of public instruction, addressing around 100 party members during an afternoon Zoom session.
Other amendments include support for marijuana legalization, support for gender non-discrimination ordinances, and opposition to the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service.
About 150 people were expected to vote on the platform at the convention, which was to conclude Friday evening, according to party spokesman Nathan Stein.
Iris Samuels is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.