Helena Health Official Removed By Cops For Verbal Assault, Making Physical Threats Over Non-Masking


According to police reports, the second-highest-ranking Lewis & Clark County health official, Eric Merchant, was removed by police from a local grocery store for making physical threats and verbally assaulting customers for not wearing masks. After his expulsion, Merchant was given an indefinite trespass order from the establishment. Merchant works for Lewis & Clark County Health Officer, Drenda Niemann, as the “Division Administrator” and is quoted frequently in local legacy press outlets whenever reports of COVID-19’s severity need to be grossly exaggerated or catastrophized.


Lewis & Clark County, more so than any other county in Montana, has been consistently imposed upon by the unthwarted will and pursuit of personal power-flaunting by unelected local health officials. Politicizing COVID-19 through consistent and obvious attacks against conservatives has typified the coronavirus mitigation efforts of the county, which has behaved toward their residents far more like what you would expect in San Francisco or Portland than in Montana.

Niemann has only ‘liked,’ endorsed, or promoted Democrats in her social media (seen above).

Run by Drenda Niemann, a lifelong leftwing activist, the Lewis & Clark County Health Department has become famously strict, and merchants have reported in social media that they are terrified to be found outside of compliance of the county’s above-and-beyond restrictions against bodily autonomy. The health officer’s social media pages are replete with endorsements for Democrat politicians, and she simultaneously seems hell-bent on purging Helena of business owners who don’t want to enforce her draconian edicts.

Examples of Niemann’s reign of terror over Lewis & Clark County include – perhaps most prominently- her promise to “prosecute” the Steed Brothers, local business owners, and other Republicans who took part in an open-air outside rally. After a few hundred Republicans spaced out over an 80-acre field to celebrate liberty, Niemann told the press, “I will be working with the County Attorney’s office to hold them accountable to our local order. I anticipate at least a citation for each violation.

Niemann was later caught lying about transmission at the event, telling reporters the next day, “several positive cases were linked to some people who went to the event.”

However, Niemann later had admit that there wasn’t evidence the event was a super-spreader at all, and actually had to solicit – even plead – with the public for any evidence whatsoever that someone at the concert might have had, or spread, the virus. It should be noted that Niemann never gave a single cautionary word or a solitary complaint about Black Lives Matter rallies held in Helena at approximately the same time.

The only virus-spread Niemann has been concerned about is that done by Republicans.

Governor Bullock attended numerous local events, including this high school ball game, without social distancing and without wearing a mask. Niemann refused to address his non-compliance.

Meanwhile, as Niemann has demanded businesses enforce her mandates, turning shopkeepers and business owners into vigilante law enforcement, she turned a blind eye to Governor Bullock appearing at crowded public events on camera without a mask and without social distancing. Her double-standards couldn’t be more obvious.

Niemann herself seems particularly self-unaware, such as when she demanded that residents wear a mask when in public while she was not wearing a mask in public. Her self-buffoonery was evident to most watching on, such as when she called a health department meeting of more than 50 people to announce that meetings of more than 50 people should be canceled for public safety.

If anyone doubts Niemann’s power-drunk egoism, she tried to keep the state legislature from meeting, declaring the People’s House off-limits to elected officials as a part of her county virus mitigation efforts. If you can imagine a county health official telling senators and representatives not to do their job, you can imagine Drenda Niemann. At the time, the Montana Daily Gazette wrote of her

Names like Raquel Williams (Carter County), John Felton (Yellowstone County), and Meagan Spry (Central Montana Health District) have all made the news for confusing their office with something out of the Third Reich. But none of them seem to have the shrieking, hysterical rage as Drenda Niemann of Lewis & Clark County.

And wherever you have seen Drenda Niemann’s name in the legacy press outlets, you’ve seen her right-hand man, Eric Merchant. His full title is the Administrator for the Lewis & Clark’s Public Health Disease and Prevention Division.

From the Lewis & Clark County website

Merchant has repeatedly cited the most outrageously provocative, wildly exaggerated, and scientifically hyperbolic claims made by disgraced “health officials” during the Great Coronavirus Panic of 2020-2021 in order to demand hardcore masking efforts to save the state from a virus that has only killed 55 healthy Montanans.

On January 15, Merchant told the press, “Lewis and Clark Public Health is committed to doing what it takes to protect our community from the ongoing local impacts of COVID, and we follow the science. The protections provided by masking, physical distancing, and avoiding unnecessary gatherings are significant and clear.”


The incident occurred on January 10 of this year. At 1:30PM, a department manager for Super Foods – a local grocery store – had heard a customer, later identified as Merchant, “yelling obscenities at two people shopping…”

Merchant, who the employee described as in his sixties, was demanding that two patrons leave the premises immediately for not having a mask and he used filthy profanities against them. Merchant claimed that he could have the customers “physically removed” because of his role with the Lewis & Clark Health Department.

When approached by the employee, Merchant demanded, “Do you know who I am?”

Apparently, a mid-level bureaucrat who couldn’t cut it in the private sector was not the answer he was looking for. He was Eric Merchant, a local health official who can have citizens forcefully removed from other people’s private property for not complying to his whims.

Saying, “I feared for my safety and that of my customers” in her witness testimony, the employee went on to describe Merchant as pointing his finger in her face and demanding that she personally physically remove the customers. Sentient observers will wonder why a grown man would demand that a female be the one to physically remove non-compliant customers.

Merchant apparently thinks himself a tough-guy, with some Helena-area shop owners pointing out the can of “whoop ass” he keeps displayed on his office shelf (see left). But in this case, it seems that Merchant was asking the female store employee to open the can for him.

He also loudly yelled at a customer, calling him “dickhead” in what was certainly an impressive level of personal projection.

The employee then called for police assistance to remove Merchant, who refused to leave the store. Instead, he went to the front of the store and made an even larger commotion, frightening several old women and using profanities upon more store employees.

Notice the date, time, and other information on this copy of a Helena Police Department informant report, 11021-45. The report appears to have been obtained on March 24, but the incident occurred on Sunday, January 10.

Notice that comments from the police officer, or perhaps dispatcher, was that a male was being verbally aggressive toward customers and is trespassing. Also notice that the police report identifies “Eric Merchant” as having received “indefiniate trespass” from the store, meaning he was told not to come back.

Below is the witness statement, in her own words.


The second-highest-ranking official in the Lewis & Clark Health Department verbally assaulted at least five Helena shoppers and unsettled several more, including several senior citizens. Merchant physically threatened customers, first saying he had to the power to physically coerce them and then demanding a female employee physically coerce them. He used filthy-mouthed profanity, referring to one of his tax-paying employers as “dickhead” and other perjoratives.

The scene was apparently so cut-and-dry that police quickly ordered Merchant out of the store and respected the wishes of store employees to remove him, and store management to ban him indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the Lewis & Clark Health Department has not answered the phone today, letting it ring as indefinitely as Merchant’s ban from the grocery store. Comments on the Facebook page for Freedom Protection Project suggest that the Helena Independent Record will not cover the story because “he wasn’t cited” (but this is why you read Montana Daily Gazette and subscribe to our news updates, because the legacy press is simply awful).

Yet, questions remain that should be answered. How many other Helena-area businesses had to put up with their health official’s verbal abuse and physical threats? How many other tax-payers were accosted by health officials over the course of the unnecessary health panic? And perhaps the best question of all is how on Earth unelected bureaucrats in Lewis & Clark County got the power necessary to act like tyrants and terrorists, intimidating and frightening the public?

If you are a Lewis & Clark business owner who has been mistreated by Drenda Niemann or Eric Merchant, verbally accosted, or threatened with physical assault, please email Jordan@GideonKnox.com or contact Montana Daily Gazette with more details. Your privacy will be respected and we will help you blow the whistle on the corruption of your health department overlords.

[Editor’s Note: HT Freedom Protection Project]


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  1. I was at Super One that day and watched the whole thing. This is an accurate portrayal of what happened that day. Mr Merchant was out of control and the only “dickhead” in the store that day.

  2. Enjoyed the article & donated. Hope you get control of this county, fire the tyrants & derelict politicians who hired them.

    Please consider biting the bullet, use alternatives like Rumble & Gab instead of Facebook & Twitter, or at least add them. Too many Americans pay domestic enemies of the USA money they use to cut our throats, e.g. Amazon, Google/Youtube.

  3. […] According to police reports, the second-highest-ranking Lewis & Clark County health official, Eric Merchant, was removed by police from a local grocery store for making physical threats and verbally assaulting customers for not wearing masks. After his expulsion, Merchant was given an indefinite trespass order from the establishment. – Montana Daily Gazette […]


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