Does Violence Lay The Groundwork For Gentrification?

by Travis Mateer

I’m glad I tuned in to Monday night’s City Council meeting because I found a gem buried in the extreme boringness of the lengthy consent agenda.

It’s actually quite difficult to keep one’s mind from being lulled into a semi-sleep state when listening to this stuff, but I somehow managed and was rewarded with the following piece of information regarding the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) signing a 3 year lease at 1835 North Ave W, which you can see on the map below in the upper right-hand corner:

Since UGM is a part of the Homeless Industrial Complex, I wasn’t surprised to see that this location is just to the east of the Johnson Street shelter. This is also the area where a recent SWAT incident, near Karl Tyler’s Express Lube, closed down the entire area for 8 hours.

I’ve held back writing about Missoula’s most recent SWAT situation, despite being on the ground at the time, because I’ve been waiting to get a better understanding of what actually preceded the barricaded standoff, but the local reporting has only confused me. Before we get to that, and my big picture theory about the role of violence in this area, here’s some footage of cops playing with SWAT toys:

Now, for the reporting, here is NBC Montana’s take on what happened:

Police say they received a report of a person shot on the 2100 block of South 13th Street West. The man reportedly fled the scene and was later reported to be at an address in the 2300 block of Johnson Street.

Officials obtained an arrest warrant for assault with a weapon against the barricaded man.

Police closed Johnson Street from North Avenue to South Avenue and South Avenue between Garfield and Kemp for much of the day Tuesday.

Officials took the suspect into custody around 7:30 p.m. Streets are expected to reopen.

Officials said the man who fired the shot on 13th Street was treated for a head injury, questioned and released.

So, the person who barricaded himself had been involved in an altercation in which he was shot, and the shooter was apparently cleared of wrong-doing in the shooting. Ok. Later in the article, police indicate the altercation happened the previous day, on the 28th.

In KGVO’s weekly crime report, County Attorney, Kirsten Pabst, provides some additional information about this incident, but to say it clarifies things would be inaccurate. From the link:

“Three of those cases were drug cases,” Pabst said. “One was possession of meth, one involved meth and heroin, and a third involved meth, heroin, and some scheduled prescription medication. We charged two new theft cases and then four crimes against persons. Of those, one was a strangulation, one was an assault, and one was an aggravated burglary.” 

In that aggravated burglary case, the defendant allegedly pulled a knife on someone at the Poverello Center. Pabst said her office also charged an assault with a weapon case that garnered quite a bit of attention this week. 

“In that case, a man by the name of David Allen Dilley was charged with assault with a weapon,” Pabst said. “In the early morning hours of November 28th, he is alleged to have hit the victim over the head with a blunt instrument and fled the scene. The victim reported shooting the defendant after the blow to the head but before he escaped.” 

According to Pabst, law enforcement searched for Dilley for a couple of days. 

“When he was located, he allegedly barricaded himself in a residence for over eight hours, necessitating a SWAT response,” Pabst said. “This investigation is ongoing. This is a good time to reflect on the gratitude that we have for our law enforcement community who put themselves in harm’s way every single day to keep our families safe. We appreciate you very much.” 

I wonder how long David Dilley will have to be in custody? And I wonder who shot him? And I wonder many other things, but I’ll leave those questions for another post. For now, here’s an image of the guy who allegedly spent a couple of days with a bullet in his abdomen:

Getting back to the urban topography, this part of town is known as “Midtown” and it’s finally getting the MASTER PLANNING treatment other, more desirable enclaves of Missoula have received. This process, which is just getting started, was reported on earlier this year. From the link:

Calling it a forgotten neighborhood that holds great potential for infill, redevelopment and housing, the Missoula City Council in February approved an agreement directing federal funding toward the completion of a master plan.

The area is bisected by Brooks Street, where a separate $850,000 federal RAISE Grant is being used to study and plan for a bus rapid transit system. Once realized, that effort will provide timely public transportation along the corridor and connect it with downtown Missoula.

It might seem like a big negative to have an up and coming area experience incidents of violence, but that’s not necessarily the case. Do local businesses and residents suffer? Sure, they may feel the short-term pain, but this shelter location–and the peripheral issues that come with it–won’t be forever, which means long-term prospects for developers could actually BENEFIT if property values can be temporarily depressed by violent social factors.

This isn’t a new concept, which the following video by The Coup will deftly illustrate. For the relevant part, skip to 3:22:

What will the Union Gospel Mission be doing with this building right next door to the Johnson Street Shelter? I’m not sure, but I’ll keep this on my radar.

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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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