HELENA - When Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot and killed by a Missouri police officer it shook the entire country during the summer of 2014, and ever since, police brutality has circled in and out of the national news.

It’s an issue ACLU Montana is addressing as SK Rossi, the new Advocacy & Public Policy Director for ACLU Montana, worked for the ACLU in Missouri while the Ferguson trial was going on.

Rossi said racial justice issues are different in Missouri than they are here in Montana. For example, Rossi says Missouri’s biggest group of minorities is African-American people, whereas in Montana it is Native Americans.

“You know, the Michael Brown situation hasn’t happened here yet, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t. We need to remember that Montana has racial justice issues as well, and our minority population might look different our people of color might look different, but they’re still here, and they’re still having trouble,” said Rossi. 

This isn’t Rossi’s first time working in Montana. From 2010 to 2014 she was involved with the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

In a farewell message in Missouri, Rossi explained:

I never truly understood John Muir’s famous quote, “the mountains are calling, and I must go,” until I left Montana. Despite the community, both professional and personal, that my partner and I have built in Missouri, Montana was always in the back of our minds and the front of our hearts. When I accepted the Director of Advocacy and Policy position here in MO, I told our executive director, “the only thing that could make me leave is the same job, but in the mountains.” That opportunity has now presented itself and I’ve accepted a position at the ACLU of Montana. It breaks my heart to leave my team, but Kylie and I need to put our roots down in Montana, with our people and our mountains.

Rossi says the ACLU in Montana is starting to gear up for the next legislative session where they will be advocating for an array of social justice issues.

“Reproductive rights to LGBT rights to the rights of immigrants and refugees. We work on things pro-actively which we will continue to do,” said Rossi. 

Rossi also said ACLU Montana does not advocate for political agendas; rather they advocate for constitutional and civil rights for Montanans.