Tolerating Violence?

by William Skink

Yesterday in downtown Missoula a fight broke out among some intoxicated homeless people outside Imagination Station, a local toy store. This is not a remarkable situation in Missoula, MT. There is a low-level of violence that occurs with disturbing frequency, but as long as it’s just homeless people beating each other up, there aren’t headlines or widespread calls to do what those of us familiar with the situation know needs to happen to improve our broken systems.

The employees at Imagination Station probably didn’t hashtag rise above fear like the rest of liberal Missoula did Tuesday at the support Syrian Refugees but remain oblivious to its cause rally yesterday evening. Probably because they were still dealing with that feeling of fight or flight when you feel directly threatened by a situation that’s out of control. People walking downtown a few weeks ago probably felt the same way when a fight nearly broke out outside Sushi Hana. Luckily that situation was deescalated by trained professionals (wink, wink).

Violence breaking out while Missoulians rally for peace and tolerance is not new. Six years ago, while the City Council was packed for a vote on the non-discrimination ordinance, a homeless man was beat to death literally a few hundred feet from where the vote was taking place, behind The Ox–that iconic Missoula bar that contributes mightily to alcohol abuse.

One of the assailants, Joey Gonzalez, was acquitted of the felonies he was facing, only to die of exposure a few years later, in Butte.

I’m glad people can get together and feel good about the beautiful, tolerant community they want to live in. My advice to them is just don’t dig too far underneath that pretty surface because you might not like what you find.

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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10 Responses to Tolerating Violence?

  1. steve kelly says:

    You need not fear that — looking under the rug where the untidiness accumulates. Scrupulous conformity dictates the groups’ behavior. These are events with high predictability staged for mental “refrigerator snapshots.” No doubt, much feel-good discussion in the coffee shops this morning. And then, like insects flitting from one flower to the next, it’s on to the next Pavlovian directive from the glowing box with talking heads. Could this be why younger kids seem fixated on killing digital zombies for hours on end?

  2. steve kelly says:

    All part and parcel of “The Two-Party Illusion.”
    Author: Jeff Thomas

    • It was a “liberal,” Lippmann, who promoted the idea that people could not be trusted to make wise choices, and so had to be offered fake choices so that the really smart people could run the country behind the curtain. Elections were seen only as an outlet for venting steam, the illusion of throwing the bums out, but nothing more. I don’t know how it was then, but seeing our dumbed down electorate now, it is hard to imagine anyone would consult them about the roundish shape of the planet much less policy issues.

      The problem is that the elite, with their elite educations and upbringing, only imagine themselves wiser, and are as prone to leading us into disasters as ordinary people. They are just more cocksure.

      Solution? People are teachable. We could try education. Now what we do now, but really imbuing each person with critical thought faculties.

  3. I can concur with this assessment about the violence and lewd behavior happening at the transfer center downtown:

    Mountain Line has been ignoring a very serious problem. Their transfer center.

    The report of the recent beating and robbery of a waiting passenger is just the tip of the iceberg of the violence and lawlessness that occurs on a frighteningly regular basis at the unattended Pine Street facility.

    Daily drug deals and sexual encounters in the rest rooms, intoxicated homeless people sleeping on the cement floors, drunken brawls, panhandling and verbal assaults of bus riders are recorded on the closed-circuit TV system and transmitted to the big screen TV monitor in the supervisor’s office on Shakespeare Avenue. Despite these constant telecasts of deviant and criminal behavior, Mountain Line management refuses to occupy the two empty offices with security personnel and reluctantly responds to radio requests for assistance from Mountain Line drivers.

    • petetalbot says:

      This is really quite amazing. The transfer center is a small stone’s throw away from the back door of the cop shop and is surrounded by marked cruisers. What’s going on down there?

      • what are the police supposed to do about it? the jail is full, meth is all over this town, no retailer wants to miss out on that lucrative Steel Reserve poor alcoholic market, the ER is inundated and Missoula is full of suckers who throw money at people on the streets. and it’s only going to get worse.

        • petetalbot says:

          Maybe they could take a walk through the transfer center from time-to-time on the way to their cruisers? Make their presence known? Anyone thought of that?

      • Pete, I don’t think you understand the current limitations of Missoula PD. over 300 calls are coming into 911 every day in this town, and when an officer makes an arrest they are out of circulation for at least an hour. police are stretched in this town. I’ve been told that the situation, especially with meth, is so bad that people being caught with small amounts are simply being ticketed for possession then sent on their way because the jail is too full. when I was assaulted last fall the tweaked-out mentally ill dude was back on the streets in a few hours.

        the police presence is not the deterrent you think it is, Pete. jail isn’t even a deterrent for many of these folks. frankly your ignorance when you ask “anyone thought of that” is insulting. some of us have been working on these issues for years and we know what could improve the situation, but there isn’t the political will or the funding to close the gaps in our broken systems.

        • petetalbot says:

          Didn’t mean to insult, Skink, it just seemed like a reasonable thing to do – have an officer walk through the transfer center on the way to his/her cruiser. I realize it won’t solve homelessness, jail overcrowding or the meth problem. It just seemed like an easy, low cost way to mitigate some of the trouble occurring at the center.

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