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Letters to the editor June 14

| June 14, 2020 1:00 AM

Responding to ‘Hypocrisy is clearly alive’ in the June 11 Daily Inter Lake, the letter itself proves its own point. The writer deserves some credit for at least giving lip service to the Kalispell Police in the current anti-police atmosphere, but other than that, the critique of the armed people present at the protest in Depot Park last week reveals only pure ignorance.

I was part of the group called “brown-shirts,” and yes, we were there to protect the rights of the BLM protesters, whether we agree with them or not. And we succeeded. We were well organized for that purpose, and we coordinated with the police. We were not counter-protesters in any sense of the word.

In case the writer hasn’t noticed, the BLM movement has been visibly hijacked by thugs, and we were there to serve notice these thugs are not welcome in the Flathead valley. Grow up Al. And thank you for the compliment.

—Eric Knutson, Dayton

I attended the Black Lives Matters gathering at Kalispell’s Depot Park. I was deeply disturbed by the armed persons hovering behind us throughout the event. I understand there are open-carry laws in Montana, but this was an intentional and militarized gathering of a large number of persons, without identification and of unknown leadership, literally brandishing weapons within a large group of citizens exercising their Constitutional rights.

I did not want these persons’ protection and I do not believe that is what they were really there for. These persons never tried to reassure me. They fingered the triggers of their weapons constantly. They were camouflaged and equipped like a military group, not like friendly Montana citizens. None of them wore masks to help protect others from COVID 19. They didn’t quiet down or quit laughing when we kneeled in silence, so they weren’t there to show respect to this cause. How about the man smacking his baseball bat into his hand saying “I’m ready!” Am I supposed to believe he is a part of a well-regulated militia? The only altercation I saw was initiated by one of these armed men, not the protestors. Any rational person would be intimidated.

Armed militias walking around unimpeded amidst families in our downtown and parks are a tragedy waiting to happen. This should not be the new normal. It’s time for a real conversation and change.

—Jennifer Allen is a Democratic candidate for HD10

How could anything be more positive and needed than the peaceful protest staged in Kalispell by several hundred locals on June 6? Yet some deemed it necessary to mount a counter protest, including grim-faced fake patriots clutching their assault-style weapons and “guarding” a monument that was likely never in any kind of peril.

One must wonder what motivated the counter protesters. Are they in favor of extrajudicial murder committed by rogue police officers? Are they opposed to the peaceful assembly of citizens exercising their constitutional rights? What exactly was their gripe?

If any of them were military veterans, as am I, they should understand that our pledge to “support and defend the constitution” includes guaranteeing the right of citizens to peacefully gather.

Thankfully, their show of armed force and stern stares did not intimidate some truly brave and honorable people who chose to stand on the right side of history.

—Mark Holston, Kalispell

The Black Lives Matter demonstration was both a protest regarding abusive police practices across our nation, and a demonstration of the unity of people/citizens voicing their fear and disgust of those evil practices. The demonstration had nothing to do with violence or desecration of the Veteran’s Monument at Depo Park.

The assault rifle toting/flag waving knuckleheads who claimed that they were “protecting” the monument are liars, plain and simple. These thugs and their guns were present to intimidate the protesters who did not come to the event to cause damage or destruction, but instead to voice their collective concerns about systemic racism which has been an ugly facet of our country’s history for over 200 years.

Next time there is a demonstration for an issue that you may not support, leave your guns at home and bring your ears and eyes instead. To brandish a weapon at an event which occurred because of a citizen’s right to free speech, is antitical to the ideals that our country stands for. We have the right to bear arms, but not the right to use weapons to tamp down free speech rights. Bringing a weapon to a peaceful event can only be seen as a method to compensate for either small hands, or even smaller brains.

—Rick Reiss, Kalispell