Drinking in Downtown Missoula: When Enough is Enough…

by William Skink

When I almost got my ass kicked on a cold February night in downtown Missoula it was because I told a dude outside of Red’s I didn’t have a lighter. I was walking to my car after watching a documentary about homeless train kids, so I wasn’t drunk like this asshole. If I was I might not have handled the situation as well as I think I did.

After a three day hiatus from posting, I’m back from my Labor Day break, catching up on what’s been happening. Apparently if you were in downtown Missoula Friday night, around 12:30am, right where I had my incident, you’re lucky you didn’t catch a bullet:

Officers responded to the corner of Ryman and Main streets shortly before 12:30 a.m. Saturday for a report of a disturbance.

The man involved in the incident got into a vehicle and attempted to flee the scene, according to a news release issued by the Missoula Police Department.

The man crashed into another car, then drove toward one of the officers, hitting him. Another policeman fired his duty weapon at the driver, police said.

The suspect, who was not injured, stopped and was taken into custody. Montana Highway Patrol processed the driver for drunken driving. The officer who was hit by the vehicle was treated and released from the hospital with minor injuries.

It’s a miracle no one was hurt in this incident.

If alcohol was a factor (it almost certainly was) I’d want to know where he was served, by who, and how much.

I have a feeling certain stakeholders will be taking a hard look at what alcohol is doing to our community, and some of the ugliest stuff is happening downtown. I literally lost track of how many women were allegedly raped downtown, some in vans, some in alleys—sometimes in the same fucking alley:

Missoula police are investigating the third alleged rape in the past week – and the second in the same downtown alley.

Police spokesman Travis Welsh told the Missoulian the latest rape allegedly occurred Tuesday in an alley adjacent to the 200 block of Ryman Street.

What the hell is it with Ryman Street?

So far much of the reaction to the shooting has been criticism of the officer, and that’s too bad, because I think the story not being told is the reckless rivers of booze intoxicating revelers beyond, I suspect, what the law allows.

I hope those who sell alcohol are familiar with the laws and have all their employees serve-safe trained because I have a feeling closer scrutiny is coming.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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6 Responses to Drinking in Downtown Missoula: When Enough is Enough…

  1. ATV’s and motor homes and guns and archery sets, big screen TV’s and big trucks and fantasy football and the ideal woman a sixteen-sixteen year old … But it’s not getting it done for the average deep-in-debt hasn’t-read-a-book since Harry Potter white guy. But there’s always booze!

    I’m being condescending I know, but there is an emptiness about us that toys and games and fantasy girls do not satisfy. Not every guy is going to go off half cocked or rape a woman in an alley, but this land is an empty, shallow place, even if we cannot define why.

  2. By the way, thanks for the Rigorous Intuition link. I’ve been having the time of my life there!

  3. wouldn’t you know, the student paper has more information about this incident than the Missoulian:

    While police say the suspect hit one vehicle, eyewitnesses accounts differ. Brandon Smith, who was standing outside the Missoula Club at the time of the incident, said the driver of the Cadillac hit two parked cars while trying to pull out of a parking space and then drove west on Main towards Ryman, where the officer was crossing the street.

    Eyewitnesses at the scene said the unidentified officer fired three shots at a white Cadillac driving west on Main Street around 12:30 am. Police did not confirm how many shots were fired.

    “It was like ‘pop, pop, pop’ and then he pulled over and they threw him out of the car,” Smith said.

    Jaydee Page was crossing Main Street when the Cadillac drove by and said the driver barely missed him.

    “I wasn’t even halfway across the street when he went by me…I kind of stopped because he was so close to me and then there was a guy crossing the street — I didn’t realize he was a cop at first and then I heard three gunshots,” Page said.

    The Cadillac stopped in the middle of the intersection, which was quickly surrounded by police.

    • Bob Williams says:

      Many thanks for following the story and for sharing.
      Seems the print people, have little care. Less try.

  4. JC says:

    “What the hell is it with Ryman Street?”

    There seems to be a different set of laws that apply to the Ryman Street shuffle. I guess when you get a dozen bars/restaurants catering to a few thousand people across a couple city blocks, and the money is to be made in short bursts between happy hour and bar-thirty, when the powers that be allow a lot of leniency.

    Bankers want their loans repaid, bar owners want to pay their loans (and make a good profit), the B.I.D. wants the value of the businesses to improve, so the tax base improves, and more money comes in to do whatever with. The mayor wants a glitzy hip downtown image to market to tourists, prospective students, and regional shopper/imbibers. City Council wants to keep M.D.A. and Chamber of Commerce members happy. The university wants a college crowd-friendly downtown environment to recruit new students and retain potential defectors. Service workers want a place to go make their minimum wage and/or sub minimum wage + tips. Partiers want a place to have fun and not be bothered by rules. Drunks want a place to go and do their thing in relative anonymity.

    In other words, Ryman Street is just business as usual, don’t rock the boat. Keep the incidents to a minimum, and hope the local press isn’t interested enough to get the community engaged.

    I’ve taken to avoiding Ryman Street if at all possible after 5pm. And the rest of downtown during all the usual community foo-fa-raw that seems to be part of downtown’s “image” of being the place to be. Except it’s really only the place to be if you’ve drank enough to not care about how crazy it really has become.

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