If Brandon Bryant Had Killed A Homeless Person Instead Of Using Threatening Language Would He Still Be Sitting In Jail?

by William Skink

Who gets justice in our community? Who gets protection? Those two questions ran through my mind as I read that Brandon Bryant was booked earlier this week on a felony count of “threats in official and political matters”.

Why is Bryant being held on a bond of $100,000? According to Deputy County Attorney, Selene Koepke, “prosecutors sought the high bail because they believed Bryant to be a threat to public safety.”

So, because Brandon Bryant used threatening language that elected officials have interpreted as being directed toward them, he is deemed “a threat to public safety” and thrown in jail.

Johnny Lee Perry, on the other hand, USED HIS HANDS TO KILL ANOTHER HUMAN BEING and he spent exactly ONE DAY IN JAIL before being released back to the streets without ANY CHARGES, felony or otherwise.

The juxtaposition of these two cases is absolutely insane. How is a man who literally killed another person with his bare hands not considered a threat to public safety while a veteran whistleblower who used threatening language is allegedly so threatening he deserves to sit in jail on $100,000 bond?

Here’s more from the Deputy County Attorney about the very scary and threatening Brandon Bryant:

“Those videos had a terrifying effect, and while the state acknowledges that some of this language is cryptic and vague, it is clearly threatening and essentially threatens mass murder,” Koepke said.

Gee, County Attorney’s office, I wonder if the violent assault at the Poverello Center that resulted in the death of Sean Stevenson had “a terrifying effect” on residents at the shelter.

I don’t need an answer from the County Attorney’s office because it was reported last month that one consequence of the assault that left Stevenson dead is that two women felt so unsafe at the shelter they left that night and were later both sexually assaulted:

Two women left the Poverello Center after a fight broke out in the men’s dorm there Friday night. The man who police said invited them to stay at his motel room is now in custody for sexual assault.

Although the police report did not detail the incident at the shelter, an assault at the Poverello Center the same night left one man dead, according to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

Who gets justice in our community? Who gets protection? Are people experiencing homelessness deserving of justice and protection? Does the family of Sean Stevenson deserve to see justice for their loved one?

The Missoula County Attorney’s office doesn’t appear too concerned about the “terrifying effect” that allowing an alleged killer to walk free has on those in need of shelter services, or those who may have witnessed what transpired at the shelter on the night Stevenson and Perry had their altercation.

BUT if scary words somehow pierce the privileged bubbles of our elected officials, then the full weight of our criminal justice system can be mobilized to neutralize the threat.

Here’s City Council woman Gwen Jones:

Thursday, Missoula City Council Vice President Gwen Jones said she hopes Bryant “gets the resources and help that he needs” and that the council can “return to normal city government dynamic.”

“It would be irresponsible to not take something like this seriously,” Jones said.

Having worked in the the non-profit sector for the last decade, with 7 years at the Poverello Center and 3 years at Missoula Aging Services, I know a thing or two about the difficulty of connecting people to support services. Gwen Jones can hope all she wants, but her hope doesn’t fix a broken system that still hasn’t rebounded from the cruel cuts forced on the most vulnerable by State leaders during the budget shortfall a few years ago.

I also know about Bryant’s difficulty with getting help because I spoke with him at length about it just a few weeks ago.

If it was up to me, and I had the power to do it, I would create a new statute in Montana law that made reckless class privilege a crime, and I would charge elected officials like Jones with violating this statute. Then I would sentence her to a month of living at the Poverello Center. If she survived that experience, it would be my hope she could be a more enlightened, compassionate city council member.

It’s too bad I can’t sentence our elected leaders to viscerally experiencing life in an over-crowded shelter where people are actively using drugs and alcohol and sometimes you get beat to death in the dorm room.

When just a small dose of that reality presented itself in the form of a traumatized veteran experiencing a mental health crisis, our elected leaders responded by increasing the police presence for themselves and ultimately participated in using the criminal justice system to incarcerate one critic, while casting the guilt-by-association net across the others.

It’s clear to me what Gwen Jones means when she articulates her hope that Council can “return to normal city government dynamic”, but for those who may not speak politico bullshit as fluently as I do, let me translate:

It was so much easier to lord over our little fiefdom before you pesky members of the public started getting all uppity, and we really hope one man’s inability to be civil in his opposition to the class war being waged will invalidate all your criticism, no matter how well-founded, and dissuade anyone else from getting uppity thoughts about stepping out of line.

This story is far from over. Stay tuned…

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to If Brandon Bryant Had Killed A Homeless Person Instead Of Using Threatening Language Would He Still Be Sitting In Jail?

  1. Ji Ortiz says:

    An interesting question. The consistent comment from county officials, law enforcement and the majority of news media is the “out of town” factor. Declared residency seems to be requirement for you to be subject to the laws of Missoula, Montana. Laws and the protections they afford through the criminal justice system are only for those native, and I’m not talking indigenous, homeowners.
    Also, it’s clear that Johnny Lee Perry, aka “Johnny Blaze” was lit-up something proper looking at the mug shot they took 4 hours AFTER he murdered Sean Stevenson. If Bryant wasn’t sufficiently inebriated or highed-up as Perry, they wouldn’t have a reason to let him loose. Also, Bryant went wrong because he did not make it clear that he felt his family, property or person was in danger BEFORE he spoke out. Then he’d, have a proper “self defense” claim. I dare say, Bryant is clearly the more perfect candidate for the slammer with bail set as high as possible. As a native, with a home in Missoula clearly he can afford it.

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  3. A. Boaz says:

    Of course this is speculative but I wonder if SEAN ever protected those two women or anyone else in the shelter. I’ve been struck by the comments that so many have left since this happened. Did anyone at the shelter actually know Sean? I wonder if the class privileged elected officials had been sentenced to living a month at the Poverello, as you suggested, would’ve felt safe after the assault on Sean or by Sean’s presence prior to it?

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