Montana Public Radio

Love Lives Here

Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

It’s been three years since a prominent neo-Nazi website called for a “troll storm” of internet harassment against Jewish people in Whitefish.  Through that chaos and threats of violence, community organizers, city officials and residents learned how to systematically push back against white supremacy. That success has become a model for others.

A paper menorah distributed in Whitefish by Love Lives Here during Hanukkah In 2016.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

After a rash of white supremacist activity in the Flathead Valley this fall, a community organization wants to create a coordinated response with the City of Kalispell and other stakeholders. The request for a new communication network is similar to one set up in Whitefish following a 2016 internet trolling campaign by white supremacists.

Anti-semitism
iStock

A handful of anti-Semitic flyers were left on the doorsteps of Whitefish businesses earlier this week. The Montana Human Rights Network believes it was a targeted attack as the local Jewish community begins Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish new year. 

Martin Luther King Jr.
(PD)

Celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with highlights from the annual Love Lives Here in the Flathead Valley celebration, recorded Friday in Whitefish.

Tune in on your radio or online Monday night at 8.

L to R, Kedryn McElderry, Gabe Mahoney, Kyllian Mahoney, Walter Pearson and Cherilyn DeVries are members of Flathead LGBTQ Alliance
Nicky Ouellet

Young people growing up queer in Montana say one of the hardest parts is how truly alone it can feel to be different under the big sky.

For the last seven months, a group of mostly high school students in the Flathead Valley has been trying to change that. They call themselves the Flathead LGBTQ Alliance, and are hosting Ally Night Thursday in Whitefish. The goal is to raise community awareness while providing support and a safe place for kids who are trying to figure themselves out.

The line for the Flathead County Republicans' fundraiser Saturday night stretched down Electric Avenue in Bigfork
Nicky Ouellet / MTPR

Flathead County Republicans hosted a controversial speaker at a fundraiser in Bigfork this weekend, and barred all but one news outlet from covering the event.

Dinesh D’Souza is a right-wing political commentator, currently on a speaking tour promoting his new book, “The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left.”

Martin Luther King Jr.
(PD)

On Saturday musicians in the Flathead Valley performed original songs about Martin Luther King Jr.’s life at the eleventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration hosted by Love Lives Here, an affiliate of the Montana Human Rights Network.

Whitefish resident David Walburn wrote two of the songs. Walburn grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He remembers listening to Martin Luther King, Jr., on the radio while studying music in college. I spoke with him a few days before the celebration about what inspired his work.

Whitefish's community vigil for victims of the Charlottesville, VA, protests drew a large crowd for speeches, prayers and singing.
Nicky Ouellet

There have been many silent moments in Montana this week.

One in Whitefish Tuesday night was held in honor of people who died and were injured while counter-protesting a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday.

A paper menorah distributed in Whitefish by Love Lives Here during Hanukkah In 2016.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

A few days before the start of Hanukkah, a small group gathered on a street corner in downtown Whitefish, holding stacks of paper menorahs. Joan Vetter Ehrenberg, a volunteer for Love Lives Here, a branch of the Montana Human Rights Network, reads an explanation from the back of the menorah:

"Obviously in response to the anti-semitic targeting of our local friends and neighbors in Whitefish, Love Lives Here invites everyone in the valley to hang a menorah in the window ..."

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election last Tuesday, there are numerous reports on the internet of an uptick in election-fueled harassment and intimidation. But's not just the internet, nor just outside of Montana.

Human rights organizations, local police departments and schools here are reporting, or checking out reports, that include pamphlet drops touting Nazi Party ideology, anonymous graffiti bashing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and Facebook posts loaded with vitriol and name-calling.

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