Gillette Commissioners Stop All Public Comment On Library Controversy

Instead of just stopping public comments about the local library, the Campbell County Board of Commissioners voted this week to stop all public comments, period, at its meetings.

Annaliese Wiederspahn

October 21, 20213 min read

Gillette library discussion
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Campbell County commissioners have extended their ban on public comments regarding the county’s library at their meetings to include all public comments, period.

Last week, the commissioners announced that they would no longer allow public comment regarding the library, which has been the center of controversy in the area for months.

But on Tuesday, During its meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners voted 3-2 to stop all public comment, according to County 17. The outlet also reported the decision was met with some resistance from several residents who said their rights were being taken away as citizens of Campbell County and called for the immediate resignation of some board members.

Former state legislator Scott Clem said he was asked to leave the meeting on Tuesday due to his objection to the commissioners’ move.

“So no one in the community can go and share any of their concerns or anything like that to the commission at a public meeting,” he said in a video posted to social media. “This is pretty remarkable.”

Clem said the commissioners did this to “shut up” a group of vocal protestors who have been upset regarding book displays at the library.

Commissioners have received numerous complaints from members of the public about what some feel are inappropriate books on display at the Campbell County Library for children and teenagers to see.

Commissioners, in a public comment Friday, pointed out the library is addressing a number of the complaints and is keeping commissioners informed on its review of the complaints.

“Although it is recognized that this is an important issue for our community, public comment will not be received on the library and the issues surrounding the library during the public comment period provided at the end of the regular meetings of the Board of Campbell County Commissioners … nor will comment be taken or received on this decision,” the statement said.

According to previous reporting by County 17, at every meeting since July, the commissioners have dedicated at least some time to addressing concerns over access to LGBTQ+ books at the library at the request of a small group of citizens, many of whom have openly admitted to acting on religious grounds.

Clem said that the commissioners refused to move the “pornographic” materials to the adult section, citing it as censorship. Ironically, they were now censoring public comment due to the relentlessness of the protestors.

“Maybe I’m completely off-base. Maybe children should have the right to be sexualized in the children’s section of the library,” Clem said.

County 17 reported that commissioners Rusty Bell, DG Reardon and Bob Maul made it clear that no rights have been removed. Emails, text messages, Facebook, letters, and phone calls were a few of the many ways to offer comments and concerns.

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Annaliese Wiederspahn

State Political Reporter