Local Officials Should Denounce Rumors, Reject Armed Activists

Anti-racist activists and concerned communities around the state are protesting in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At the same time, Far Right paramilitaries are spreading rumors to encourage violence against people of color and their supporters. MHRN is sharing the facts behind these rumors and offering two actions that community members can take to help prevent the violence that these activists of the Far Right crave.

Debunking Rumors in Montana

Late Monday, former state Senator Jennifer Fielder set off a firestorm of misinformation regarding anti-racist events in Montana. She posted a note on Facebook warning that “multiple reports from credible witnesses” said a caravan of Antifa members was planning to infiltrate anti-racist protests planned in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, before heading to Missoula. Since this post went live, variations on Fielder’s claims have been shared far and wide in militia and other anti-government Facebook groups. Members of these groups have responded by fantasizing about the chance to shoot Antifa demonstrators.

There were several problems with Fielder’s claim and the agitation it created, but the most important one was this: There was no caravan. MHRN thoroughly researched the situation and was unable to find any solid proof of a caravan, and neither could several law-enforcement sources MHRN contacted. Instead, the claims made by Fielder followed an “Antifa Fantasy” template that is sweeping the country. Both the Associated Press and the Idaho Statesman have published articles debunking the claim. Additionally, the Kalispell Police Department issued a statement yesterday that says it has no information of “any outside groups” planning events in their area. A Montana Public Radio piece quoted the Missoula Police Department making similar statements. 

MHRN is issuing this information because facts matter. MHRN is also concerned that this Antifa Fantasy is being exploited by armed militia groups to divide our communities and intimidate peaceful protesters.

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Dear MHRN Friends,
We appeal to you today as a dedicated supporter of human rights, who no doubt, like us, are appalled at the recent murder of George Floyd in the wake of a history of anti-black violence. This has come on the heels of the recent disproportionate economic and health impacts on black and brown communities due to the COVID pandemic.
The many faces that have made up our logo for 30 years is representative of the Montana we seek, one that is beautiful and thriving in its diversity and equity. Black Lives Matter.
For those of you who have been unfairly subjected to the devastating impacts of racism, we are holding you up in each and every action we take.
For those of you who have known the pain of discrimination in other forms, maybe as women or members of the LGBTQ community, we are asking you to conjure the empathy that comes with having been told you are less than.
For those of you who carry the historical trauma as Jewish people and others who have been, and continue to be, subjected to the ugliness of bigotry, we are asking you to act from that place of understanding.
And for those of you who are privileged to only know of these plagues on our communities through books, videos, and the stories of friends and family, we ask you to act and follow the lead of black, brown, indigenous and other people of color. Each of you will play a different role, but let the commitment to those at the center of this struggle permeate every part of your life.
Let us not be paralyzed in our effort to be perfect, but let us commit to lean into our values of justice, equity and inclusive democracy.
Black Lives Matter.
In Solidarity,
Rachel Carroll Rivas
Co-Director, MHRN
PS: We ask that you consider supporting our friends at the Montana Racial Equity Project at www.mtrep.org and Indian People’s Action
at www.indianpeoplesaction.org