Great Falls Commission pens letter of support to Charlottesville council

In the wake of protests that lead to violence and the death of three people in Charlottesville, Va., the Great Falls City Commission wanted to show their support for their fellow city officials.

Commissioner Bill Bronson suggested sending the letter during Tuesday’s meeting and the other commissioners agreed that they should send the letter. Bronson drafted the letter than all five commissioners have signed and the letter is en route to Charlottesville.

“Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers,” the letter states. “Physically, we are over 2,000 miles apart. In spirit, we will always stand right next to you.”

08_17_2017_letter to Charlottesville City Council

The Charlottesville City Council is also five members, all of whom are elected to serve four-year terms as at-large representatives. The council selects a mayor and vice-mayor amongst themselves. Like Great Falls, their elections are staggered so three members are elected in one year and two are elected two years later.

Charlottesville is a city in central Virginia, in Albermarle County with a population of about 45,500 people in the city limits. In Virginia, cities are autonomous and completely independent of a county, even if they are fully enclosed within a county.

Bronson said those similarities were another reason to express their support as well as how the community handled similar protests that were planned in Whitefish.

“What happened in Charlottesville touches us in a way you might not have expected,” the letter states. “In conjunction with some other Montana communities, our commission adopted a resolution of support for the Whitefish community and our fellow elected officials.”

The demonstrations in Whitefish were cancelled. One of the organizers, Richard Spencer,  was also involved in the Charlottesville events. Spencer calls Whitefish his hometown.

“Although he don’t continue his efforts in that community, he obviously followed through in yours,” the letter states. “We know now what might well have happened in Whitefish. The thought is chilling to all of us.”

Vigils were held across Montana in support of Charlottesville after the events of Aug. 12, including one in Great Falls.

“Expressions of solidarity with you and your community may not offer much solace for what you experienced this past week. Nevertheless, we offer our condolences, and our support, to you and your community in these most difficult times,” the letter states. “Hopefully, as government officials charged with oversight of the public peace, and as citizens ever vigilant in the fight against those who make a mockery of our democratic values, we might one day be able to put an end to travesties like those that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia.”