COMPOSED IN THE GALLATIN COUNTY DETENTION CENTER WHILE IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT (Tuesday, November 15, 2022)
The account below was penned by Jesse Boyd in the Gallatin County Detention Center while alone in his cell. It was written down with a flimsy jail-issue pen on paper from a blank composition book given to Mr. Boyd by a fellow inmate.
PART ONE, THE ASSAULT:
On Saturday (November 12, 2022), our missions team (Jesse Boyd, Bethany Boyd, Josiah Boyd, Eric Trent, & Carter Phillips) had resumed #TheLongWalkUSA on US 287 North near Mile Marker 20, the place we had stopped walking with the cross late the previous night (November 11, 2022) in subzero temperatures. We had returned to our rented lodging in Island Park, Idaho for the night in our SAG (i.e. Support and Gear) vehicle and had then come back Saturday morning to resume from the same spot on the highway, heading north on US 287. Such is our custom, to walk as far as we can, or as far as the LORD leads, on a specific day; to pack up and go to wherever we need to lodge or cook, and then return to the exact same spot to resume walking the next day. Sometimes we camp; sometimes we stay with friends or strangers; sometimes we reserve an Airbnb or motel room. We travel with a support vehicle to carry supplies, camping gear, Gospel materials, Bibles, food supplies, etc. But, we never skip any part of the route; it was been one continuous walking route that began in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on March 1, 2021.
Our tentative plan was to continue north to Three Forks State Park and then pack up and return home to North Carolina for a much-needed break from the coming brunt of the winter and to spend the holidays with our families. We were planning to walk until November 16th and then make the long drive home, intent upon returning to resume from the very spot of termination sometime in late February or early March, dependent upon the severity of the winter.
TheLongWalkUSA team normally consists of me, my daughter Bethany, and Eric Trent.
Eric has worked with me in ministry since 2015. Bethany and I have each logged in about 3,000 miles of the total 5,500+ miles; and Eric has logged about 2,600. When it is just the three of us, Bethany is always walking with either me or Eric, and never alone. Occasionally, other Christians join us for short stretches, as do our wives and children when time and/or circumstances permit. Many people follow our journey day by day as I update our progress and log our specific location each night @ thelongwalkusa.com. Bethany’s friend, Carter Phillips from Crane, Missouri, has come alongside this work numerous times and has logged almost 1,000 miles of walking. He served with Bethany for an entire summer as part of a volunteer missions team working with our ministry in Peru back in 2017. He was able to take off from his job at a cotton gin in Golden City, MO and drive out to Montana to help us complete the last part of this walking leg. Accompanying him was Josiah Boyd, my 12-year-old son who had wanted so badly to come out with his dad (me) one last time before the end of the year. Josiah has logged more than a hundred miles on this journey with us. Carter & Josiah arrived in Bozeman, MT on November 10th and lodged with a Christian sister, a friend of a friend we had made on this walkway back in Cody, Wyoming. On November 11th, they drove down to Island Park, ID, and rendezvoused with us at our lodging. On both Friday and Saturday, we alternated walking legs of about 3-6 miles each in the bitter cold with wind chills, at times, below zero. Carter and Bethany walked together with the cross and the upside-down American flag; and then Eric, Josiah, and I walked together with the cross and two flags.
On November 12th, the day in question: Eric, Josiah, and I walked 5.5 miles from mile marker 20 to about mile marker 26. Bethany & Carter then continued on US 287 another 5 miles to around mile marker 31 while I moved the support vehicle up the highway to a suitable pull-off. Along the way, we had several interactions with passersby, some motorists, and a few elk hunters. All encounters were cordial and resulted in persons taking one of our “souvenir cards,” a Gospel tract that summarizes what we are doing and why we are doing it. There is also another tract we give out that explains the meaning of an upside-down American flag, also written and printed by our ministry (These tracts can be viewed @ thelongwalkusa.com). These cards contain my phone number and contact information.
“Nothing we do is hidden.”
This walk is very public and transparent for all who cross paths. We have nothing to hide. Around mile marker 31, we decided to split the remaining six miles to Cameron where we hoped to find some hot coffee at a store that Google Maps indicated would be open. From that pull-off near MM 31, Bethany and Carter moved the SAG vehicle up the highway about three miles. Previously, I had warned Bethany to be very careful about pulling off the highway into unplowed pull-offs or spots because of possible deep snow or snow drifts. I had also warned her about avoiding private roads and private property, and I exhorted her as we have this entire journey NOT to cross a line that is posted, even if to park for a very short time. This is our protocol, and we have abided by it since the starting line.
As Eric, Josiah, and I walked the next stretch, Bethany & Carter looked for a suitable parking spot about halfway to the store in Cameron. The only safe place they could find was noted as Cameron Road on the map, near mile marker 34. This road entered private land and provided access to what looked like residences and some sort of motel and advertised fly shop. From US 287, Bethany turned left into the 30-40 feet of public easement or highway apron and parked the support vehicle to the right, facing out toward the highway for an easy exit. She made sure to leave plenty of room for a vehicle to enter or exit Cameron Road onto or from the highway. Bethany did not cross the posted fence line about 30-40 feet in from the main road.
We are accustomed to locals asking as to our purpose while an out-of-state support vehicle is parked and waiting for the walkers in places where this would be seen as suspicious or strange. We consider this to be normal and expected interaction. We have had many such encounters without incident and have, at times, moved immediately if we discovered ourselves inadvertently on private property. Never has there been an incident or altercation upon explaining our purpose to a local inquisitor, even if the inquisitor remains aggravated or declares that we are not welcome.
On this particular occasion, the support vehicle remained parked in this spot along the US 287 and Cameron Road for about 45 minutes. Bethany and Carter stayed inside the vehicle, waiting for us to walk up and prepared to relocate if necessary. During that 45 minutes, no one exited or entered Cameron Road.
At approximately 3:00 pm, Eric, Josiah, and I walked up to the support vehicle and handed the cross and the flag off to Bethany and Carter. As they prepared to take off down the the road on foot, continuing north on US 287, I walked around to the rear of the support vehicle swung open our gearbox, opened the trunk, and tossed my backpack and the flag Josiah had been carrying into the trunk. Eric and Josiah were standing at the front of the vehicle beside the highway and conversing with Carter and Bethany about where we would wait for them down the road and we would try to find them a hot coffee somewhere.
As I was closing up the trunk and securing the gearbox, (a process that normally takes about two minutes), I heard a vehicle stop on the main highway, and I heard the rest of our group at the front of the vehicle stop talking. I just figured it was someone asking if we needed any help, (a common occurrence). As I finished up what I was doing at the rear of the vehicle, a dark truck turned right onto Cameron Road and stopped parallel to the support vehicle. I looked up and immediately noticed the driver to have a very angry demeanor. He rolled down his passenger window and yelled something angrily at me from the driver’s seat and with profanity. I did not recognize this individual, nor had I seen him or his vehicle at any time prior. I didn’t know if he lived or worked nearby, or if he had any connection to the motel and fly shop down Cameron Road. He was a complete stranger to us.
I responded to his tirade: “There aren’t many safe places to pull off out here with this snow, my friend. We are just some folks walking across America with a support vehicle. I’m sorry, and we are leaving immediately.” He responded to my remonstration with profanity and threats and insisted that I was blocking his access. I replied that there was plenty of room for him to pass by and that we were leaving anyway. At this time, Eric and Josiah walked up to the passenger side of the vehicle to see what was happening. Carter and Bethany remained at the front of the SAG with the cross and the flag, standing there and waiting to walk down the highway. This individual continued his profanity-laced tirade in the presence of my 12-year-old son. So, I told him that it wasn’t a big deal and he didn’t have to act like that. He screamed, “F$%K YOU! F$%K ALL OF YOU” extremely loud, and I replied, “Sir, you need to go wash that filthy mouth out with soap. There are children out here.”
He then put his vehicle into park and said, “I’ll show you.” He seemed to reach for something and then got out of the driver’s side and very aggressively and rapidly ran toward me from around the front of his vehicle, a distance of about 20 feet. In that moment, I took his threat seriously and concluded that he was an imminent danger to me and my son standing nearby. I didn’t know or see what he reached for in his vehicle but feared at that instant that it could be a gun or some sort of weapon. My son was standing to my left and a bit behind on the other side of the hitch holding the gearbox. I was on the left side of the hitch in front of the gearbox with about two feet of space between me and the back of the box, the spot to which I had walked to hear the driver when he first engaged. As this irate man ran around the front of his truck and directly toward me, I genuinely feared for my life and took thought for the lives of my small son and teenage daughter standing in the immediate vicinity. I didn’t know this man; he was very angry; his movement was sudden, and I interpreted “I’ll show you” to be a direct threat of bodily harm.
I was carrying a 2-shot .410 Derringer holstered on my left hip. While walking, I prefer to carry this particular weapon in areas where there is potential for encounters with wildlife. It absolves me of having to aim with precision in order to neutralize a threat or stop a charging predator in its tracks. I had carried this particular sidearm across Yellowstone National Park and the Great Tetons, and up into Montana from Island Park because of the presence of grizzly bears. Outside of wildlife areas, I prefer to carry a small .22 Magnum in my left pocket for personal protection. At the time, this firearm was locked inside the support vehicle’s glovebox. Before the aggressor could make physical contact with me, as it very clearly appeared that he was trying to do, I unholstered my Derringer and pointed it in his general direction from a defensive stance, close to my body, and angled toward the ground. I backed up two feet toward my vehicle’s gearbox and said very calmly, “I am in fear for my life, and I don’t want any trouble. There are children out here.” He stopped dead in his tracks about three feet in front of me, and resumed screaming profanities and threatening: “You are in Montana now, and you can’t be pulling guns on people. I know the Sheriff personally, and you are in big trouble now.” I replied calmly, “I am in fear for my life and for my children sir, and I am simply acting to protect myself.” At this point, Eric moved Josiah and got him out of the way. Instead of Josiah, Eric was then standing to my left and behind the gearbox where Josiah had been standing. Eric said, “Sir, we are just going to leave.” The assailant then started engaging Eric. He said, “You need to shut up, the adults are talking here.”
Eric persisted in trying to diffuse the situation, and I was able to then clearly discern that this man did not have a gun or a weapon in his hand. I determined that a lethal threat had been neutralized and so re-holstered my firearm. I then handed it to Eric and asked him to go put it away. As soon as Eric took the weapon and put it out of reach, the assailant walked right up into my personal space as my back was against the gearbox of my vehicle. His nose was almost touching my nose, and I had nowhere to go without making physical contact with him. At that moment, I feared that any physical contact, even if accidental or in an effort to move out of the way, would result in a physical response from him, so I chose to just stand my ground with my back against the gearbox and my hands hanging loosely at my sides. I just hoped that he would finish his rantings and step away so that we could leave. The entire time, the presence of children was at the forefront of my mind. As this man continued to threaten me with bodily harm and even death, literally screaming and projecting his spittle all over my face, I repeatedly warned him not to put his hands on me and that I would defend myself. I also made it very clear that I had children on the scene.
He proceeded to threaten that “Montana Cowboys” were on their way and that I was going to pay for this. He mentioned that rifles were already trained upon us from a distance and that any of us could be shot dead. I continued to warn him that we didn’t want any trouble and that he needed to get out of my face so that we could leave. He said, “No, you’re not going anywhere motherf%$^r!” At this point, Bethany put Josiah inside the vehicle. No one had the keys to the vehicle as they had been put down somewhere before this aggressor had even come onto the scene. I wasn’t sure if they were in the front seat or the closed trunk, so I feared we might have difficulty leaving quickly. Until this man backed out of my face, I believed I was stuck.
Eric continued to remonstrate with this man and urge him to leave us alone. Suddenly, the unknown assailant physically lunged into me with his body and pinned me against the gearbox of our support vehicle. I was no longer pinned in by his position but by him physically. So, I pushed the man off of me and attempted to move out of the way. He punched me in the face and broke my sunglasses. After recovering from the initial shock of the strike, I got into a defensive stance and prepared to repel ensuing blows. Eric ran around and got between me and this man yelling, “Stop, Stop, Stop.” He plowed by Eric and continued throwing punches. I fought back. In the ensuing struggle, I was slammed into the nearby fence, and the assailant was able to tackle me to the ground.
“I suddenly found myself partially buried in snow with this 280-300lb man on top of me, pummeling me repeatedly with his fists.”
I was wearing several layers from walking in the cold, gloves, a beanie, and a hood that covered most of my face, so these protected me from injury. Moreover, I was able to parry and block most of his shots and somehow get my feet between him and me with my back on the ground. I kicked this man several times in an effort to get him off of me. He was bigger and outweighed me by much. I believe I kicked him in the face and bloodied his nose as I attempted to get him off. Therefore, some of his blood splattered on my pants and the front of my jacket, small splatters. I think this kick to his face also cut him above his eye as my shoes were very heavy and covered with ice and snow.
At this point, I heard Bethany scream, “Get off my dad. Get off my dad!” I couldn’t see exactly what was happening, but I could discern that Eric, Bethany, and Carter were all trying to get him off of me. With their help, I was able to work myself free, and as I slipped out from under him and got back on my feet, I saw that Bethany was holding the flag in her hand, and Carter still had the cross—just as they had from before this incident even began. Bethany and Carter positioned themselves between me and the attacker while Eric restrained this man with an elbow and wrist technique and repeatedly asked him if he was finished. “Are you finished, sir?” The attacker relaxed, thus indicating that he was done. Eric, in turn, relaxed the elbow and wrist pressure.
“Immediately, the aggressor lunged at him and tried to pull him to the ground.“
In the struggle, I was forced to come to Eric’s aid and kicked the attacker twice in the body as they were locked together. Eric was able to get away when he was literally pulled out of his jacket and his backpack. At this point, the man was physically exhausted and finally stopped fighting. He stood up, leaned against the nearby fence breathing heavily, and said, “Cowboys are coming. You are going to pay.” I did notice the blood on his face and some above his eye. However, he was well enough to stand up, walk back toward his car, and continue a threatening tirade.
It was at this point that two other vehicles approached from inside the fence line on Cameron Road. Carter, Bethany, and Eric positioned themselves between the ranting assailant and me as he went to his truck. I asked Carter to hand me the pistol holstered on his hip (Eric had previously put mine away). He did, and I held it somewhat clandestinely to my body for a few moments, fearing violent reprisal from the others who had arrived on the scene and had exited their vehicles aggressively. When they stopped and approached no closer to any of us, I gave the pistol back to Carter, and he re-holstered it.
It should be noted that none of us were able to call 911 up to this point because we had no reliable cell signal. I know there is a way to do it on an iPhone without a network signal, but sadly, I never took the time to learn how. None of us did. We figured ourselves to be in the middle of nowhere in a very dangerous and exposed spot with others now on the scene. The assailant got out his phone and dialed 911, openly bragging that he knew the sheriff and that we were in big trouble. I heard him tell the dispatcher that he had been assaulted by a group of people. With law enforcement now involved, we were suddenly unsure about whether or not to leave the scene. The 911 the dispatcher asked the assailant if the “attackers” were still present. He said, “Yes.” I affirmed loudly that we were still on the scene and that we were the victims. I don’t know if she heard me or not.
Immediately, this man’s two acquaintances warned us that if we didn’t leave immediately, they would run over my vehicle with their trucks. “Get the hell outta here, or we will kill you!” One of the also said, “Get your Jesus s#%t out of here.” We took these threats seriously, so I quickly searched for the keys as Carter and Bethany started briskly walking north down US 287 with the cross and the flag, as they had intended to do before any of this began. I knew law enforcement would be on the way, and I wanted the walkers to be seen doing what exactly where we were doing when this happened, thereby very visibly demonstrating why we, as North Carolina residents, happened to be in that Madison County.
When I finally found the keys, I drove off with Eric and Josiah inside the vehicle. I proceeded north slowly and kept Bethany and Carter in sight. I kept trying to get a call to 911 to go through. The dispatcher answered three times, but she could not hear me on the other end. So, I drove as far as I could without losing sight of the walkers. Finally, we got through on Eric’s phone and reported the incident. It was about a 10- minute conversation. I was very clear that I had been forced to pull a firearm in fear for my life and that this individual had confronted us first, had threatened us, had thrown the first punch, and was the aggressor who attacked us unprovoked.
I explained what we were doing in terms of walking across America with a cross and that we had wanted to stay at the scene of the incident until they arrived. However, we were forced to flee because others had arrived and threatened our lives. I provided the exact location of the vehicle and informed him that Carter and Bethany had just passed by walking north on the highway. I believed we were out of danger but informed that if anything changed before law enforcement arrived, I would proceed further north on US 287 and call them with a new location. I was also clear that we were armed and that I had put my firearm in the side of the door. She asked if it was loaded, and I replied, “If it isn’t loaded, it won’t shoot.”
We waited a few minutes while watching the scene of the incident from a distance in the rearview mirror. We thought we saw additional vehicles gathering, so we drove up the road, told Carter and Bethany to get inside the vehicle, and then proceeded up to around mile marker 34. About ten minutes after the conclusion of the first call, I phoned 911 again and informed the dispatcher that we had moved. At that moment, a police vehicle approached from the north, and I told her that they had arrived. I then hung up the phone. The second call was less than a minute.
PART TWO, THE ARREST:
From the moment officers and law enforcement vehicles arrived upon the scene, all of us cooperated fully with every instruction, despite what seemed ridiculously over the top in terms of their SWAT-like approach. It seemed from the start that they had already predetermined us to be at fault in this matter, without gathering any facts or statements. Even Josiah, my 12-year-old son, was ordered out of the vehicle and treated like a criminal, multiple firearms and tasers pointed directly at him. We were all made to get down on the ground and handcuffed, including Josiah; and then each of us were put into separate vehicles. Josiah was crying but remained cooperative and tried to do exactly what he was told. None of us objected, resisted, or argued. We cooperated 100%. Eventually, I was taken out of the back of one of the police vehicles and made to sit on a tailgate in the freezing cold. I was read Miranda Rights by Deputy Winn but was not told that I was under arrest. In that moment, I saw no reason to remain silent or request an attorney.
“The whole matter was cut and dry. We were the victims.”
We were attacked unprovoked by a stranger who got out of his car, made verbal threats against our lives, struck first, and struck repeatedly. We had nothing to hide. I explained everything to Deputy Winn as I had with the 911 dispatcher, trying to remember as many details as possible with a foggy mind and shivering in the freezing outside temperatures. I even showed him how to get one of our “souvenir” cards from my back pocket that explained who we were and what we were doing far from home in Montana. He did so. I offered no objection when asked if an officer could speak to Josiah apart from me. There was no reason to object. Josiah saw everything. At this time, I wasn’t aware of any details regarding Bethany and Carter using the cross or the flag to try to get the assailant off me, as I didn’t see this. While pinned on the ground, I could only hear her screaming, “Get off my dad!” and could only discern that my fellow team members were trying to pull him off.
I waited for an unusually long time on the tailgate in the cold as Carter spoke with another officer. I couldn’t see Eric or Bethany or where they had been detained. A “Deputy Wyatt” seemed to be in charge, yet he never asked me any questions about what happened, and I don’t remember Deputy Winn writing anything down from my statement, as is customary when an officer conducts an investigation on the scene of a possible crime. After some time, all the officers came together and conferred for a few moments. I clearly saw Officer Wyatt making visible gesticulations to them as if to mimic someone beating a person on the ground over and over with a baseball bat or some instrument. I had no idea what he was doing and found it very strange. Nothing like that happened out there. A few minutes later, the group broke up and they started arresting us.
In this confusion, I tried to speak with Deputy Wyatt, but he refused to talk and simply replied, “You are all going to jail for a long time, even your daughter.”
I tried to further remonstrate, but he wouldn’t allow it. From that point, all of us cooperated 100%. Josiah was taken away without my knowledge, and I never saw him again that night. En route to the station in Virginia City, I pleaded with the Ennis City Policeman transporting me to intervene as a lesser magistrate and to help us. He seemed to empathize and spoke kindly but made it clear that there was nothing he could do. At the station in Virginia City, as Officer Wyatt escorted me inside the building, I again asked if he would please take time to speak to me. He said he would later, but that there was nothing he could do to undo the arrest. At this point, none of us knew what they were being charged us with, nor were we told. I only discovered “Felony Aggravated Assault” when I saw it on a computer screen during the booking process.
To his credit, Deputy Wyatt did keep his word and later came inside the holding cell to allow me to remonstrate with him. I asked him to please consider the bigger picture of our ministry and the greater context of our walk across America. I urged him to ask himself how any of this made any sense if we were the aggressors. Moreover, I asked him to contemplate what motive we could possibly have to start trouble in his county, having walked through more than 200 counties thus far without incident. “It would be counter-productive to our whole purpose,” I declared. He agreed and affirmed that none of it made any sense to him. However, “we made our decision, and now it is up to a judge.” I remonstrated further about Bethany, Carter, and Eric, insisting that their involvement was only to protect or rescue me from the attack. “Arrest me, if you must, but at least let them go.” He replied, “There is nothing I can do.” At this point I simply had to stop talking and put it into the Lord’s Hands.
Officer Wyatt then claimed that it would help “expedite the process” if I would help him retrieve the cross and the flag Bethany was carrying. I agreed to cooperate if he would promise that I would get these things back. I explained that we had carried them more than 5,000 miles and that they were very special and sentimental to us and our Gospel work. He assured me that we would get these things back soon; he gave me his word. Carter and I were then transported to Bozeman by Deputy Cox, a very long drive. I had no idea at the time where Eric or Bethany were taken. I knew nothing about the whereabouts of Josiah. En route, we stopped at D&D Towing in Ennis where I assisted Officer Wyatt, as I had promised, in getting the cross and the flag out from inside the support vehicle.
During the long drive to Bozeman, Deputy Cox was very kind, and we engaged in healthy conversation. Upon arrival at the Gallatin County Detention Center, I then saw Bethany as she was booked and taken back into the women’s facility. Carter was booked and taken away as well. I still had no idea what had become of Eric or Josiah. Bozeman was about a 90-minute drive from Virginia City.
When I was finally booked into the Gallatin County Detention Center, I was forced to turn over my coat and my pants to Deputy Cox to be bagged as evidence because of some blood spatter. Up to that point, I had responded when asked that I didn’t believe I had any injuries. Upon our arrest on the side of US 287, I was told my Officer Wyatt: “You have no injuries. He does. So that means you were not in fear for your life.” I don’t understand such reasoning.
All along, I had been puzzled by a large spot of blood on my lower right pant leg just above my shoe. Upon removing my pants in the GCDC, it became clear that this was my blood, for it had bled through my sock onto my pants. There was a cut under my sock in that very spot. I made sure to indicate this to Deputy Cox, and she took some pictures. I also revealed that I was starting to feel back and neck pain from where I had been pummeled on the ground. The adrenaline had worn off, and I was feeling it. Again, pictures were taken of my back.
The next day, while showering in E-Pod at the detention center, I discovered bruising on both legs above and below the knee and a bruise on my left kneecap. These were apparently sustained when the assailant had me pinned to the ground and as I was trying to block his strikes with my legs and my feet.
“I am the victim in this incident and was attacked unprovoked.”
There should have been no question in the matter. Even though armed and three of us trained in martial arts, all showed great restraint and simply did what had to be done to stop, subdue, and end the aggressor’s confrontational actions and violent rampage on the side of the highway. No weapons were discharged, and there were no serious injuries. The assailant, as far as we could tell, had only sustained minor cuts or abrasions to his head and face as I kicked him while on the ground. He also had a bloody nose. It was no surprise that there were cuts to his hands as he struck at me and Eric multiple times in the freezing cold. None of his claimed “injuries” came from any defensive use of the cross or the flag. Our flagpole could be broken over someone’s knee, and we have to be careful about letting the cross fall to the ground because we have chipped and cracked it several times. We have had to repair it on many occasions. If this assailant had been beaten with these instruments like the gesticulations I saw Deputy Wyatt making to the other officers on the scene, they would no doubt have been broken. Not only were we justified in defending ourselves and each other, one of these being my teenage daughter, from this unprovoked attack, but we would have been justified, according to Montana Law, in using much less restraint. We could have hurt him badly, but we chose not to do so.
“The assailant made very clear threats of bodily harm that I was forced to take seriously on the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere.“
He showed aggression in his car. He got out of his car after I told him we were leaving. He aggressively ran toward me after I told him we were leaving. He made physical contact after we told him we wanted to leave. He threw the first punch after the firearm had been put away and after we again told him we desired to leave. He threw the first punch. He tackled me to the ground. He later tried to attack Eric. And, he continued to threaten us with bodily harm and even death after we had dealt with him and up to the point he called 911.
In this matter, I simply did what I believed was just and right according to my conscience before Almighty God and according to my responsibility before God as a father when his children are in the presence of danger. I also acted in a way that I believe offered the first line of defense and protection for our missionary team as its leader. When I went to the ground and found myself covered in snow, my team members acted to rescue me from danger. We were victims of random road-rage and obvious hatred for our purpose, as indicated by one of the assailant’s comrades when he shouted: “Get your Jesus S$%T out of here!” Nothing like this has ever happened in 5,500+ miles of walking across 17 states and more than 200 counties. I sincerely believe that we had been seen earlier out on the highway and that this whole scene was an orchestrated set-up and a hate-crime committed against Christians with a cross who were obviously from out of state. Nothing else makes any sense. The amount of rage and vitriol outpoured in the presence of children over a parked vehicle was so far beyond normal human emotion to such a thing, even normal road rage.
At the Gallatin County Detention Center, I have been treated with kindness by both staff and fellow inmates, though I was incarcerated in a maximum security pod with anywhere from 16-20 hours of solitary lockdown per day.
In my home state of North Carolina, we would never have been arrested after such an incident. Moreover, we have had multiple encounters with law enforcement along the 5,500+ miles of our walking route. Some were chance encounters; others were responses to calls about “suspicious people” or wild claims from folks who simply saw us walking with a cross and wanted to make trouble. 100% of these encounters were positive, and we were treated with respect by officers acting as civil servants, even on an occasion when I was asked to produce an ID and politely refused because I was doing nothing wrong and wanted to protect my anonymity. The federal officer in that instance was polite and acknowledged my right to remain anonymous, affirming that I was doing nothing wrong. She also took a Gospel tract. This particular encounter was actually not too far from where the above-described altercation transpired, less than 200 miles away in Grand Teton National Park. Several times, sheriff’s deputies in different rural counties inquired to make sure I was carrying a firearm for protection on these highways and byways and affirmed my right to use it in instances of dangerous threats. In Menifee County, Kentucky, I actually dropped my small .22 Magnum PUG on the side of a county road that I was walking and didn’t realize it until hours later.
When I called several days later to report its loss and the serial number, after exhaustively searching through my things, the sheriffs office informed me that someone had found it and turned it in to the station. They welcomed me to return and retrieve it, and I did. The whole staff took Gospel tracts and encouraged me to keep carrying a firearm on my walk across America.
“This encounter with Madison County Sheriffs Deputies was the diametric opposite of everything any of our team has experienced anywhere on this long walk across the United States.“
I’m finding it very difficult to avoid concluding that corruption is involved, especially considering the assailant openly boasted that he knew the sheriff personally. My state-issued identification was never requested once during the whole process on the side of the highway. It wasn’t until after I was arrested and detained in the Virginia City station that my ID was inquired about to verify my personal information. I was arrested and taken into custody without even verifying my identity, without knowing exactly who I was or even trying to corroborate my statements.
“They took my son away from me without having verified my identity. That cannot be OK or normal protocol.”
It seems decisions were pre-determined about fault with bias because we were Christians, because we were from out of state, and because the assailant had some sort of personal relationship with the county sheriff. The LORD knows. My family and I have been missionaries in foreign nations for many years, some of them Communist, dangerous, and politically unstable. We have interacted with law enforcement in Third World countries on many occasions and have never been treated like we were treated by the law enforcement of Madison County.
At the end of the day, I acted in a way I believe was completely justified and right in the face of a perceived and imminent threat involving two of my children and fellow missionaries for whom I am responsible as a team leader. I defended myself, and the others defended me. We did so with restraint so that we were spared from harm while our attacker was spared from serious injury and greater sin and its consequences. Here I stand, NOT GUILTY of any wrongdoing before the LORD and my country. So, help me God.
-Jesse Boyd, Full Proof Gospel Ministries
[Publisher’s Note: The above testimony was submitted by Jesse Boyd to Montana 1st News and used with permission by Mr. Boyd]