UPDATE: Great Falls Man Released After Being Jailed for Facebook Comments

By Beacon Staff

Bryon Scott Farmer, a Great Falls man arrested for comments he made about the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council on Facebook, has been released from a Browning jail, Farmer’s attorney confirmed Wednesday morning.

Tribal officials say Farmer’s arrest was legal and necessary to protect members of the council, according to Chairman Willie Sharp Jr.

Farmer was arrested on Friday, July 12 for violating Tribal Ordinance 67. The law protects members of the tribal council from “allegations of threats, slanderous material and misleading information,” according to court documents.

On Tuesday, Dave Gordon, Farmer’s attorney, filed a writ of habeas corpus arguing that his client’s $5,000 cash bail was extreme. Farmer was released on $500 bail Tuesday evening and quickly returned to posting on Facebook.

“Guess who’s back?” Farmer wrote late Tuesday night. “I love all my people who prayed for me while I was in jail.”

Farmer has been a staunch critic of the current tribal council. Last summer, the ruling council led by Chairman Sharp suspended five other councilors and more than two dozen tribal employees. Since then, only five councilors have been in office, and critics on the reservation contend that does not constitute a quorum to conduct business.

On June 18, Farmer wrote a lengthy post on the Blackfeet Against Corruption page about the then-upcoming North American Indian Days in Browning.

“On Saturday, July 13 at North American Indian Days we will show our tribe, Indian Country, America, and the world that the Blackfeet will no longer allow corrupt leaders, illegal actions, politicians that ignore the will of the people, and abuse of our laws and people. We will show all Indians that you CAN take back your reservation when corrupt and incompetent politicians get out of control,” Farmer wrote.

Farmer continued that the tribal officials “will just have to guess what we have planned and wait like everybody else for the big day. We promise it will be exciting and make headlines worldwide. And we can tell you we are not planning anything violent or illegal so the (tribal council) will not be able to stop us.”

In the comments section, Farmer said he planned on building a float for the North American Indian Days. He said the float would include a big screen television and pictures of Adolf Hitler and Shannon Augare, the state senator and tribal councilman who recently pleaded not guilty to charges of DUI and fleeing a police officer.

On June 28, Blackfeet Chief Prosecutor Carl Pepion charged Farmer with violating Ordinance 67 and signed a warrant for his arrest. The Facebook post was referenced in the court document.

On July 12, Farmer was attending a family gathering in Browning when police arrived at the private residence and arrested him. Farmer spent four days in jail.

Although Farmer has been released, the charges remain and Gordon said he plans to challenge the legality of Ordinance 67.

“Apparently Bryon is a thorn in the side of the tribal council because he’s an outspoken critic, but none of it warranted 15 officers showing up at a house to arrest him,” Gordon said.

But Sharp said while Farmer’s Facebook post may have seemed innocent, the tribal council was worried about it inciting violence during the North American Indian Days.

“We were within our rights as a tribe to protect the interests of our members,” Sharp told the Beacon. “When they cross the line and start inciting violence, that’s when you have to take it seriously.”

RELATED: Great Falls Man Jailed for Facebook Comments

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