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A small white supremacist group makes their presence known among Missoula community
Asher Maney
This sign just outside of the Har Shalom building is where the white supremacists gathered

On October 22nd, participants of a local white supremacist group rallied together in front of Har Shalom, a Jewish synagogue in Missoula. They sported signs with sayings like, “RISE UP, WHITE MAN” and “NOT OUR PEOPLE, NOT OUR PROBLEM”. White supremacist symbols like the swastika were also present on the men’s clothing. 

This rally is most likely a preemptive response to pro-Palestinian protests that were held in downtown Missoula on Sunday. The white supremacists wanted to make a point: they haven’t gone anywhere.

As far as their beliefs go, nothing has changed much in the last twenty years. White supremacists believe that the Germanic Caucasian race is the highest form of human intelligence. Many minorities, and mostly everyone of their own race believes this to be untrue and a dangerous thing to believe in.

The unexpected appearance of Neo Nazis was rather startling to the Missoula community, that isn’t usually confronted by people of that belief. Among those most surprised were the members of Har Shalom synagogue. The rabbi of Har Shalom, Mark Kula, stated, “It makes one feel unsafe and uncomfortable, but very clearly this is a small minority of people who are troubled and filled with hatred”.

“It makes one feel unsafe and uncomfortable, but very clearly this is a small minority of people who are troubled and filled with hatred”. 

— Mark Kula, Har Shalom Rabbi

Eventually, this ‘hate filled’ group moved away from Har Shalom and ended up at the Missoula County Courthouse. It was here that they met another small rally of people with similar ideals. They continued their peaceful protest in the downtown area.

One person taking part in the protest was Larkin McIntyre. McIntyre attended the rally wearing a Nazi-themed sweatshirt with swastika and four lightning symbols. He was a very vocal member of the group during the protest, so much so that he ended up getting arrested. 

McIntyre was completely fine in his conduct according to the law until he started to yell racial slurs at Native Americans. The First Amendment protects free speech until it becomes threatening or if someone is trying to start a fight. The cops deemed McIntyre’s words and conduct to be crossing these boundaries. He was issued a citation.

Hateful shouting was happening all throughout the supremacist rally, and it made people uncomfortable. Although the opinions of the men are protected under the first amendment, the officers showed up to keep an eye on them because it was very likely that the shouting may turn into something else. This is exactly what happened with McIntyre. 

Although the protest was small scale, it did not go unnoticed by Missoulians. Usually, something like this happening would be somewhere else in Montana, or in Idaho or Utah.

The Israel-Hamas conflict is probably responsible for this showcase of white supremacy. The conflict has been getting far more news coverage lately than any other issue, and it could be that the supremacists felt left out. 

It isn’t only Missoula with rising numbers of white supremacists gatherings. The whole country has seen an uptick in discrimination and attacks against those of Israeli and Palestinian descent. The issue has always been divisive, but now (with the mass social media coverage and raging opinions on all sides), it’s even more so. One extremist opinion of the matter is that of the white supremacists.

In September, Neo Nazi hate groups dressed in red clothes and decorated with fascist symbols gathered outside Disney world. Sheriff John Mina stated, “We know these groups demonstrate in high profile areas in order to agitate and incite people with antisemitic symbols and slurs,” the Sheriff’s office said. “The Orange County Sheriff’s Office deplores hate speech in any form, but people have the First Amendment right to demonstrate. What these groups do is revolting and condemned in the strongest way by Sheriff [John] Mina and the Sheriff’s Office. They are looking for attention, and specifically media attention.”

This is exactly what they got, too. 

Social media posts coursed through apps like Instagram and Twitter (now X), and received much attention. Whenever uprisings like this happen, they are bound to attract some sort of national media attention because of how the U.S. views them to be.

There have been very few laws passed to prohibit such rallies from happening because people are afraid of what might happen to the boundaries of the First Amendment. If this one issue is opened up to constitutional debate, then others that are just as controversial for some people might be opened up also. Most Americans don’t want to go down that path.

White supremacists are also rallying online more than ever now, and not just at in-person protests. There are multiple groups of white supremacists on social media apps, ranging from just a few members to hundreds of individuals. Unfortunately, this online presence has influenced many impressionable, young Caucasian adults. One person became so convinced of this that he shot 10 African Americans at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. His name is Peyton Gendron and he was given a life sentence without any chance of parole.

The hate regarding minorities by white supremacists has always been around, and has managed to find new ways to survive in recent years. These old ideals are still thriving in different areas today and are definitely still as dangerous as they were before. Thankfully, Missoula has been fairly exempt from these ideals taking strong root. 

However, as Missoula saw on Saturday, these ideals still have the ability to show their head to the public, even though in small numbers. There are more steps taken every year to ensure a safe environment for all races by Missoula officials such as passing anti-discrimination laws. 

Even if every step is taken to form a safe environment, there will still be those who do not conform. As seen on Sunday, there are people out there who take pride in being different, whether the average citizen might agree with them or not. What matters most, however, is securing safety for all individuals while still being able to express opinion. This is the backbone of the United States: the freedom to communicate an ideal, whether old or new.

About the Contributor
Asher Maney, Reporter