Is The Shooting Death By Police Of A White Man In Missoula A Form Of Racial Equity?

by William Skink

While the Missoula Current is taking a closer look at security being provided at the County Courthouse and City Hall, this online news journal has barely taken a FIRST LOOK at the shooting death of Jesse James Kale Brown on Saturday by Missoula police.

Why is that?

Last summer, when a young man was confronted in a downtown alleyway during protests against the police killing of George Floyd, the Missoula Current had no problem writing stories about what happened, and the subsequent charges against the armed vigilante that resulted.

If Jesse James Kale Brown had been a black man shot dead by police, would the Missoula Current be ignoring this unfortunate tragedy? I doubt it, considering all the reporting over the summer about defunding the police.

Maybe there are more important things happening in our community, like a cool study about how Grizzly bears use road-crossing structures. Is that the reason for not taking a closer look why two little girls don’t have a dad anymore?

Maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong.

Back in August, when Missoula invested $100K to develop a “pro-equity policy agenda“, our housing guru (who now leads the Office of Everything) framed the investment like this:

Eran Pehan, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said the $100,000 funding request for the FY21 budget directly relates to the city’s commitment to address racial and social equity.

She said the city has already made a commitment to work with community partners to find disparities in local government and other social realms, and to identify solutions that advance the city’s goals around social, economic and racial equality.

That includes what Pehan described as a “pro-equity policy agenda” in areas that include economic development and jobs, the environment, housing, health, the justice system, and mobility. The process will unfold in two phases.

“In Phase 1, we’ll honor our commitment to work with community partners to define disparities in our community and to identify the most promising solutions toward advancing social, economic and racial justice,” she said. “We’ll also conduct an internal policy analysis and equity audit to ensure operations, policy creation and decision making reflect the city of Missoula’s goals to advance racial and social equity.”

Maybe a WHITE MAN being shot dead by police instead of a BLACK MAN is a form of racial equity.

While I’m sure killing white men is NOT an official policy position, I can only assume the Missoula Current’s lack of interest in delving deeper into this story is a result of the victim’s skin color.

I hope I’m wrong about that.

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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3 Responses to Is The Shooting Death By Police Of A White Man In Missoula A Form Of Racial Equity?

  1. Flagulus says:

    Worth pointing out that the protests are comprised of people who were protesting this summer.

  2. Alex Mitchell says:

    Hey William, I read your blog every week as I cherish diverse perspectives across the community and across the political spectrum, and I thank you for your contributions to the ongoing conversation here in Missoula. While I freelance City Government articles pretty regularly for the Current, I’m just speaking for myself here.

    If you want an honest answer, it has nothing to do with race, at least for me. At the City Council meeting, there were several public comments about the protests, and adding to the significance of it was a comment from the Mayor that councilors echoed. However, I felt like his comments essentially canceled out the protesters’ concerns in my view, and at that point, it was hard to tell where the empty rhetoric was, and where the actual news was. I ended up feeling like whatever I would write would come off as biased towards one side or the other, even if it wasn’t. It was a concern first mentioned by my editor. So, I instead wrote something on just a three-minute happening in the council meeting that I figured was important, but no one else would likely cover, on the poplar plantation’s transfer of ownership.

    That obviously isn’t an excuse, but I felt like as a City Government reporter what could I do that would make a proper article on the shooting? The answer to how might this make the City reevaluate things was pretty unnewsworthy when I inquired: Essentially, police brutality is bad, and also, wait for the investigation.

    Anyways, I’m don’t find myself cynical/stubborn like most journalists yet, so feel free to contact me. My contact info is just on the Missoula Current website. Again, I always appreciate a variety of perspectives on things, and at the end of the day, I just want to produce articles that are accurate and balanced, that people can respect.

    Keep up the interesting work!

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