In a video taken on Friday, a Montana resident attempted to drive to Cooke City when he was pulled over and harassed by law-enforcement who – obeying the orders of Governor Steve Bullock – refused to allow passage to the small Montana town.
Cooke City is one of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park and is most renowned for the road that connects Cooke City with Red Lodge. The Beartooth Pass on Highway 212 is called “the most scenic drive in America”, and connects national forest land to the national park. More importantly for local residents, it connects Cooke City with the rest of the world. The population of the city is 140 people, although the town is likely larger in population due to the many non-permanent residents in the community.
Governor Steve Bullock, who seems intent on hurting Montana’s tourism economy – which amounts to 3.7 billion dollars a year and brings in more money than both agriculture and energy – has the state’s parks on lockdown. Even though Montana has fared better during the Great Coronavirus Panic of 2020 than virtually every other state, the Montana Department of Tourism put out a video several weeks ago asking tourists to keep their dollars out of the state and visit some other time. Meanwhile, the governor has also canceled outdoor activities like out-of-state bear-hunting and even in-state paddlefish season, two activities that are hardly magnets for infectious diseases.
Whereas Yellowstone National Park has been opened up, only the entrances on the Wyoming side are open to travelers. Governor Bullock, insistent on protecting Montanan from economic recovery, has kept the entrances to the park on the Montana side shut. One of the many problems with this draconian government overreach is that his decision is closing off travel to Cooke City altogether, as the only option to approach the city from Montana (as opposed to coming through Cody, Wyoming) is through the Montana entrance of Yellowstone Park.
On Friday, Tyler Vance – a concrete worker from Montana – attempted to make his way to Cooke City when he was immediately followed, pulled over, questioned, and harassed by law enforcement for traveling through the area. Vance kept his calm and spoke repeatedly to the officers of tyranny and questioned their resolve to obey the Constitution. His appeals to the law were largely ignored by the officers who were intent on inhibiting his travel.
You can watch the video below.
“Right now I got these rangers behind me. And there’s two of them right here and they’re going to pull me over and probably arrest me. That’s how it is,” the Montanan said. “I’m probably going to jail, but do you know what, bud? Somebody has got to do it. Somebody has got to stand up for our rights.”
One officer told Vance, “You have two options. You can leave and go out the gate or you can go to jail. Those are the only two options we have right now. You are not going to Cooke City…”
He then ordered Vance to place his hands behind his back and informed him that he was being detained.
As Vance pled with the officer on the grounds of the Constitution, the officer said, “I agree that certain things need to change, but I don’t make the rules.”
Vance said, “You have every right to refuse to enforce it,” and the officer replied, “No I don’t. Would you refuse something your boss ordered you?”
The constitutional right to travel is presumed under the fifth amendment according to a myriad of court rulings. Citizens may travel from place to place without having to show a permit allowing travel.
The Montana Daily Gazette spoke to Vance who informed the press that after being detained he was given the option of returning the way he came and accepting his citation or going to jail. He chose to accept his citation and return back home, unable to reach his destination.