On the eve of a Black Lives Matter protest scheduled for Saturday, a Missoula man, 48 year-old Mark David Belden, has been charged with two misdemeanors; unlawful restraint and operating as a private security guard without a license, in an incident that occurred during a Black Lives Matter rally at the Missoula County Courthouse on June 5.

According to the complaint, ‘the defendant, (Belden) was at the Black Lives Matter rally and observed a person riding around the rally in a bike whose identity was concealed, including their face and hands, by a long hooded sweatshirt, face covering and sunglasses. The defendant believed this to be suspicious, stopped the person and demanded the person identify themselves, thereby restraining the person in a manner that substantially interfered with the person’s liberty’.

A second complaint stated:

'The defendant was charged with the misdemeanor offense of operating as a private security guard without a license by acting as and/or performing the duties of a private security guard for persons at the Black Lives Matter protest without the necessary license.'

A press release from the City of Missoula states in part:

‘The City Attorney’s Office based the charges on facts established during an investigation by the Missoula Police Department. Consultation with the Missoula County Attorney’s Office determined a lack of probable cause for a felony/hate crime.'

Unlawful Restraint carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and six months in jail. Operating as a Security Guard without a License carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.’

The notice orders Belden to appear in Missoula Municipal Court on or before July 31 to face the two misdemeanor charges.

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