At the beginning of June, the local newspaper reported that a woman in Butte had her home vandalized with racist anti-Indian graffiti. Vandals spray painted “Go Home,” “prairie n—r,” and “f—k you Indian lover” on the side of her trailer. The woman, Miki Chessmore, said this was the latest in a string of vandalism that started when she rented a room to an American Indian tenant. Police had no suspects in what the county sheriff correctly called a hate crime.
The 65-year-old Chessmore told the reporter she had two major concerns. The first was trying to cover up the racist graffiti. She and her tenant had managed to paint over it with some primer, but she lacked the resources to do anything else. The second more serious issue was that she was afraid to be in her own home at night. “I don’t know that these people wouldn’t do bodily harm to me,” she said. The fear was warranted, as this incident wasn’t just the most recent. It was also an escalation of bias-based actions directed at Chessmore and her tenant.
“I don’t know what they will do next,” Chessmore told the newspaper, “but people ought to be aware of the hatred and racism going on here.”
That’s exactly why MHRN got involved. MHRN staffer Travis McAdam visited Chessmore at her home the morning the news story was published. He talked with her and offered MHRN’s help in organizing a community response to the hate crime, in addition to trying to facilitate some efforts to fix her trailer and address her safety concerns.