A Question For Mayoral Candidate Sean McCoy: Do The Ends Justify The Means?

by Travis Mateer

While poking around agenda items for different municipal committees I discovered that Mayoral candidate, Sean McCoy, is on the Planning Board. This position is a County appointment, so now I’m wondering who appointed McCoy to this board. I’m also wondering why there’s nothing in his application for Mayor that acknowledges his youthful mistake when he attached and repelled from a logging truck idling on the Madison street bridge (pictured above) in a dangerous stunt here in Missoula.

Here is an article from 2002 about the consequences of that direct action. From the link:

Earth First! members vow to continue efforts

Their climbing ropes and harnesses exchanged for jail-orange jumpsuits, a pair of Earth First! protesters answered to charges of felony criminal endangerment in Missoula Justice Court on Thursday, insisting they are innocent and should not have to post $70,000 each in bail money.

But Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech granted a prosecutor’s request and told Sean McCoy and Stephanie Valle that they’ll stay in jail until they come up with the money.

And if they do make bail, she said, they cannot have any contact with one another or with five other Earth Firsters arrested during an anti-logging protest on the Madison Street Bridge on Wednesday.

Valle, 19, told the judge she is from McCall, Idaho, and moved to Missoula 10 months ago. She’s not a criminal, she said. “I got a smoking ticket when I was 16 and a drinking ticket when I was 17. I don’t have a criminal record, and this crime was nonviolent.”

Isn’t Stephanie Valle adorable? Maybe she thinks this is just a game, but I assure you the first responders who literally risked their lives to UN-attach these activists didn’t share that perspective. For some details on what responders faced in this situation, here’s more from the article:

The idea was to protest the logging of burned trees in the Bitterroot National Forest. In doing so, though, the protesters commanded the attention of three fire stations “and left the city of Missoula without fire protection,” said Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jennifer Johnson.

Throughout the rescue, firefighters were at great risk, Johnson said. The Clark Fork was just 3 feet below flood stage and was so muddy that firefighters could not see what was below them. McCoy and Valle not only endangered themselves, she said, they endangered everyone in town.

How did the dude who wants to be Mayor respond to the judge 11 years ago? He responded like this:

McCoy, 27, told the judge that he was born and raised in Pocatello, Idaho, and worked most recently as a smokejumper based in Redmond, Ore. He’s been in Missoula for the past six or eight months, he said, and should be trusted to stick around while he awaits trial.

“I am a nonviolent person,” he said. “I served in the military for four years. I am going to appear. I have supported the community for a few years, and have been a part of the Missoula smokejumpers as well. I don’t feel $70,000 is quite right.”

Before getting to McCoy’s credentials, as stated in his application, here’s a tweet that got me thinking about how an ends-justifying-means rationale can put someone who should know better, like a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, in jail for allegedly participating in a coordinated attack against a police training center in Atlanta.

Since the Montanan Human Rights Network LOVES to reference the SPLC, I asked them about the ends justifying the means in this case on Twitter:

Back to Sean McCoy and his Mayoral application, here are his credentials with my emphasis on the only reference I could find that hinted at his run-in with the law in Missoula:

After doing his rebellious activism thing in 2002, McCoy settled down and got to farming, something he got attention for in the Missoulian 20 years later.

From the link:

Sean McCoy, along with his family, owns and runs an urban vegetable and fruit operation called Frank’s Little Farm (named after a legendary Butte union organizer who was murdered in 1917). He said he’s looking forward to selling tomato plants and other starts.

“I’m not going to do food this go around,” he said. “Things are a little uncertain right now.”

The markets are a big revenue source for local farmers, he said, and because the market was supposed to open May 2, there’s been a few weeks of lost income for many.

However, McCoy said there’s an immense amount of interest in home gardening right now, much like the “victory garden” eras during World Wars I and II.

“There’s huge, unprecedented interest in local products and food,” he said. “We’re gonna try and take as many precautions as we can. As farmers, we’re really isolated anyway so we aren’t really necessarily concerned about our own welfare as much as we are about the community, so we need to take precautions seriously.”

I’m glad Sean McCoy is concerned about the welfare of our community because 20 years ago all he was doing was complaining about the high bond he faced for endangering the lives of first responders.

Do I think McCoy has a chance in hell at becoming Mayor? No, I don’t, but his candidacy could siphon off votes from another, more serious candidate, so THAT is what makes me very curious about McCoy’s candidacy.

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Thanks for reading!

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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