Militia presence at Black Lives Matter rally was meant to intimidate rather than provide safety

| June 30, 2020 8:28 AM

To the editor:

I read the article that was written in regards to the Black Lives Matter protest that took place June 11 (“Rally elicits strong emotions,” June 16). I would like to respond to a few statements that were made in the article.

There was a quote in the article that read: “We just don’t want any of that antifa stuff.” If you read the national press and looked at the papers regarding antifa’s involvement in the riots and looting that occurred you would see that the FBI has reported no credible evidence of antifa sparking the violence. It is a talking point that President Donald Trump pushes without any proof or facts behind it.

Robert Viergutz, state commander of the Montana Three Percenters Militia stated, “That’s why I’m trying to keep the peace down here. There’s just too much violence.” This statement is a joke. The job of keeping the peace is that of the police and sheriff’s departments, not the militia. It is laughable to think that Montana Three Percenters were there for any other reason than to intimidate the people supporting Black Lives Matter. I, for one, do not need his protection and do not want it. If he wants to parade around with his guns, do it somewhere else and not at a protest for Black Lives Matter.

If the statement I made above needs any support, let’s look at what Rocke Gifford, a member of Montana Three Percenters, had to say about why the militia was there. “If they force us, you know what the end result will be,” he said. “If any of them hassle [local law enforcement], if it comes right down to it, force equals force.”

This quote tells one that intimidation is their only reason for attending the rally.

I have no problem with the pro-Trump people. I respect their right to their opinion. I might not agree, but that is what democracy is about. However I have no respect for the Montana Three Percenters militia. I ask that they stay home next time. Their protection and intimidation are not needed.

Maybe this is the time for the police to enforce Montana Code 45-5-221. This would put a stop to the intimidation tactics of the Montana Three Percenters.

Mark Roesler-Begalke