The Montana Human Rights Network says in the weeks after the general election it has seen an increase in the number of hate incidents. That is why the organization created an on-line hate activity reporting tool.
Rachel Carroll Rivas, MHRN’s co-director, says since the election they have received a dozen reports of hate activity. By contrast, that’s what the group normally receives in a year.
She says the incidents have ranged from graffiti using Nazi symbols, hate literature drops, to comments directed to individuals, “Including anti-gay slurs. And for people of color, comments that they are now going to be deported with the election of Donald Trump.”
Carroll Rivas says these incidents took place across the state, including in Billings, Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, Absarokee, Belgrade, Bozeman, Whitefish.
She says the organization recognizes people have the right to say hateful things, but that people also have the right to live free from fear and intimidation.
“In my opinion we are a non-profit organization doing human rights work and so it’s not that we’re taking on their free speech. It’s that we’re using ours to call it out and say that this is not the way to create a welcoming, diverse ,and functioning democratic community, little ‘d’ democratic,” she says.
MHRN’s on-line reporting tool is for victims of hate activity or for those who witnesses or hear such incidents.
The organization has been monitoring such incidents in Montana for over 2 decades. It also challenges bigotry and intolerance. So what do you do if you are a victim or witness to a hate incident? Carroll Rivas says report it. She says MHRN is been working with other organizations to offer de-escalation trainings for the public. Trainings have already been held in Bozeman and Missoula, she says others are planned and will be posted to their website.