Pride month has come and gone, but the consequences for a local bigot are just beginning. The Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center hosted its first annual Pride Fest on June 24, 2023. The event featured performers, a slam poetry contest, food vendors, and numerous local artists and businesses. Focused on family fun and inclusion, hundreds of community members joined in the fun.
The only blight on an otherwise lovely day was a single angry man. Holding a sign that read, “F*gs Deserve Oppression” the lone “protestor” walked the perimeter of the Festival. He alternated between blowing a whistle and screaming slurs at passersby. A Festival volunteer followed a few paces behind the man in an attempt to prevent any violence. But violence was clearly what this man was after.
After sharing photos and videos on social media, numerous citizens wrote in identifying the man as William Ross. Research shows that Ross is a Great Falls local and a
“Master Mason” at the Euclid Lodge No. 58 AF & AM. The Lodge’s facebook page shows Ross on the right in their cover photo.
The universe loves irony, and Ross was previously quoted in an article about the Masonic temple. Ross states, “Yeah, that we’re [Masons] a bunch of devil worshippers, child sacrifice, goat ridden’ degenerates. That is the farthest from the truth in every way possible.”
The Freemasons themselves seem to preach a different ideology than the hate displayed by Ross. Euclid 58’s website describes the Freemasons, writing, “ Masons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within Freemasonry, they all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Masons come from varied religious beliefs, yet all believe in one God, in religious tolerance, and in individual freedom of thought and conscience.”
You can read about the lodge (and even CONTACT THEM) by accessing their website here: https://euclidlodge58.com/aboutMasons.html
As Pridefest went on, Ross’s behavior escalated. Eventually Ross yelled at citizens crossing the street and engaged in a physical altercation with a man leaving the event. Despite his bravado, Ross immediately began screaming “I’m being assaulted.” Dear readers, Ross was in no way being assaulted. Rather, I put myself in front of Mr. Ross while a volunteer pulled the other man away. After this incident, Ross told Pridefest volunteers that he had a weapon and was willing to use it if he felt “threatened.” Ross was calling people “f*ggts” – it’s quite clear that he was not the one being threatened. One volunteer believed they saw Ross with a gun, at which point the police were called and a report made. Ross left shortly thereafter.
Although Ross openly marched with his sign and even interviewed with a local news station, he then requested his face be hidden for the interview. Most assuredly, Ross has the legal right to yell slurs at people he hates. However, freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences.
After Ross was identified, WTF406 reached out to his employer, Culligan Water. Culligan’s website lists the company’s “Commitments” with #4 reading “Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Read our correspondence with Culligan below:
Culligan Great Falls Telephone: (406) 761-5050
I write for What The Funk 406, a blog that covers local politics. I am also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and on June 26, 2023, I attended Great Falls Pride Fest. During this event, a lone individual carried a sign reading “Fags Deserve Oppression.” The man yelled slurs and his behavior eventually escalated to the point that he had to be physically separated from event attendees.
I took the attached video and also shared pictures of the individual on social media. Multiple community members reached out and identified this man as William Ross. Some of the folks that contacted us recognized Ross as a Culligan employee. They also expressed concern about Ross delivering water to their businesses.
A quick look at the Culligan website shows the company has multiple “Commitments.” Commitment #4 reads, “Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
With this commitment in mind, we request your response to the following questions:
Is Culligan aware of Mr. Ross’s behavior on June 26, 2023?
Does Culligan share Mr. Ross’s view that “Fags deserve oppression?”
Further, should LGBTQ+ community members such as myself feel safe doing business with Culligan and allowing such employees into our offices and homes?
I appreciate your time and will happily answer any questions you may have about the attached photos and video.
As of this evening, WTF406 has received no response from Culligan.