Missoula Police Clear West Broadway Island Of Homeless Encampment After Another Woman “Accidentally” Drowns

by Travis Mateer

Yesterday the West Broadway Island was cleared of homeless campers by law enforcement. I guess the “accidental” drowning of Kimberly Michell emphasized what can happen when unstable people with mental health and addiction issues are allowed to do whatever the fuck they want, like pulling a knife on cops:

The Missoula Police Department has been conducting two daily sweeps on the West Broadway Island in the Clark Fork River, and officials decided to start a cleanup Tuesday night.

An increase in camping on the island prompted the action.

During Tuesday night’s cleanup, police said James Muster pulled a knife on an officer when he was asked to leave the island.

“We began to be concerned about the activities that may be going on down there and the people who are occupying or other persons who were continually at risk by persons of this nature,” Missoula Police Department public information officer Travis Welsh said.

This area near the downtown core of Missoula has been given an enabling boost with a publicly financed bridge that went HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars over the initial half-million cost.

Here is how NBC Montana reported on this absurdity:

In 2019, officials told us they hoped redeveloping the area would bring more culture to the Westside and provide more access to the river. They used special property tax money.

Now, it’s an accessible camping spot for people without shelter, which is exactly what officials wanted to prevent.

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency contributed $500,000 to the project, that came from special property tax money.

The total price of the redevelopment was $800,000.

While the police claim their investigation concluded the death of Kimberly Michell was “non-criminal”, I think Mayor Engen and his cronies at the Missoula Redevelopment Agency share some responsibility for recklessly throwing money around, making the problem worse.

Again, this is the SECOND woman who’s consumption of alcohol in this area of town turned fatal. Linda Bolin was found dead in the water in 2019 after drinking with friends behind Imagine Brewery:

Linda Bolin was found downriver from where she fell into the water, possibly from a wheelchair, said Missoula County Undersheriff Rich Maricelli.

In a text on Thursday, Missoula Police Department spokesman Travis Welsh said she was reported to have fallen near the 1100 block of West Broadway. Maricelli said she had been behind Imagine Nation Brewing drinking with friends.

So whatever happened to the man who pulled a knife on cops? Was he arrested? I looked through the Missoula County Jail Roster and didn’t see anyone arrested yesterday on charges that matched the alleged action of pulling a knife on law enforcement.

After police cleared the area I went out to the island to determine where Kim drowned. A mentally ill woman and a man who appeared under the influence of alcohol were yelling at each other, both saying awful things to each other.

Is this how a caring, liberal community takes care of its marginalized community members? Should we continue allowing lawless encampments to be established where alcohol and drug abuse are rampant and where any piece of shit drifter can pop a tent and pass a bottle to the point where women with drinking problems fall into the water and die?

This is a pretty sad place to be for a community that has allowed its political leaders to claim a decade of positive progress toward improving the homeless situation in Missoula. As the corpses pile up, maybe it’s time for an independent review of that alleged progress.

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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5 Responses to Missoula Police Clear West Broadway Island Of Homeless Encampment After Another Woman “Accidentally” Drowns

  1. TC says:

    I was heartened to see a statement of condolence given on behalf of Ms Michell by MPD Chief White. This small gesture by White gave Michell her humanity back. Unfortunately, this is a very rare act – Im hard pressed to recall an official statement of sorrow given by City leaders when yet another homeless person dies tragically (or murdered). Perhaps this small gesture will encourage the Mayor/Council/Commissioners to act in kind and give a face to otherwise statistics.

  2. Eric says:

    So what did the ‘residents’ do?
    Move outside city limits?

    • I assume some people will relocate to other areas where illegal camping occurs, like along Grant Creek or the Buckhouse bridge area or somewhere in the woods in Bonner. I expect many will go to Reserve Street.

  3. Pingback: What’s Really Going On Between The City Of Missoula And The Poverello Center? | Reptile Dysfunction

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