Trends: A Dying Hip Strip And Regional Violence Against People Perceived To Be Homeless

by Travis Mateer

Just south of downtown Missoula a little slice of hipness once existed, but earlier this week, while scheduling a therapeutic float, I realized the “Hip Strip” appears to be dying. I counted, in one block, two failed weed stores sitting empty and a “for rent” sign in the window of the former Legacy Lounge. Ouch.

A few days after taking this picture I was on the other side of the street and a homeless man was in the empty storefront of Legacy Lounge taking a nap in his wheelchair.

The scene last Friday night was much more chaotic, but I only saw the tail-end of the action. Why was the woman being arrested, I wondered? A few days later I had my answer.

From the link (emphasis mine):

On June 23, 2023, Missoula Police Department officers responded downtown for a report of an assault just after midnight. An officer arrived and spoke with a male who was covered in mace and complaining of extreme pain. The male stated he was having trouble breathing. The officer spoke with the male while he was being assessed by medical professionals that responded.

The male stated he was sitting on the sidewalk next to a duo of males that were playing guitar when an unknown female came up to him and sprayed him with a gel mace unprovoked. He stated he was having difficulty remembering what had occurred due to not being able to see or breathe.

A short time later, a female that matched the physical description of the witnesses was located by other officers. An officer approached the female who was later identified as 35-year-old Madelein Owen. Owen stated she didn’t attack either of the musicians. Owen made further statements, voicing her frustration for the guitar players and her hatred for homeless individuals.

Wow, that’s some serious animosity being expressed toward potentially homeless street performers. At least this woman’s violence wasn’t lethal, unlike what happened this same weekend up north, in Kalispell. From the link (emphasis mine):

Two men are in the Flathead County Jail on charges of deliberate homicide after a weekend assault on a homeless man.

Kalispell Police officers responded to reports of an assault at Appleway Drive and Meridian Road around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.

When they arrived, they found a man with significant injuries. The victim was taken to Logan Health where he died a short time later.

The victim has been identified as 60-year-old Scott Bryan who the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office reports he had no listed addresses in Kalispell.

Originally, when the 19 year old and 18 year old were charged with this crime, both young men were pictured in local reports, but for some reason I can only find an image of this suspect:

This case immediately brings to mind the violent murder of Forrest Clay Salcido in Missoula, a brutal crime ALSO committed by two young men.

Is there a connection between these two trends? I would argue, yes, both trends are consequences of a shitty economy driving a sick culture to the edge, or over the edge, depending on where you’re standing.

Is there a solution? If there is, it’s not going to be delivered by the same people who helped get us into this mess, assuming we’re even talking about people in the first place. But that’s a topic for another post.

If you appreciate my local reporting, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to support my work, while making a donation at my about page is another.

Thanks for reading!

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 Trends: A Dying Hip Strip And Regional Violence Against People Perceived To Be Homeless

  1. TC says:

    When Mr Salcido was murdered I think we all felt it was a horrible anomaly (at least thats how all my circle of long time Missoulians felt). Now it seems that rather than being anomalous these occurrences are becoming routine. For example, over the past decade, there have been at least 1/2 dozen women murdered within City limits – brief news blurp (sometimes without the honor of even an identification) and then no follow up, so investigation (worth the definition of that word) and then erasure from the Gentrified hive mind.
    A couple of years ago the dam started to be stressed, now its cracking, wont be long now before it breaks. Funny how this all started to turn to this “crisis” situation about the time Jolly John and SHP decided (in their narcissism) that they would END homelessness. Its ok though – they were only parroting the Obama Federal Policy of the day (look it up doubters). Look – there are no easy solutions; damn I actually think there are NO solutions. But because of that – stress will continue to rise and the dam will break.
    BTW – per the article quoted – the “mace” victim was not unable to “recall” because he was “maced”. Mace has zero effect on memory – his memory was distorted via other means. More to that story – ie not random

    • Mrs Stitch says:

      Totally agree on no solutions!

      Just let’s not decriminalize drug use or legalize petty theft. It’s not helping elsewhere.

  2. No solutions? None at all? In other words, we (meaning society at large) are condemned to continue along the trajectory we are on without any possibility of finding an off ramp–somewhere?

    Travis has a better idea and hints at the solution.

    “Is there a solution? If there is, it’s not going to be delivered by the same people who helped get us into this mess…”

    Government (the control of some people by other people) has gotten us into this mess. It is insane to expect that government will get us out. Instead, the solution (the ONLY solution which will work long-term) is for individual people, common ordinary people like you and I, to give up any idea of “let’s let someone else solve the problem and pay them handsomely to do it” and begin working on our own initiative and at our own expense to help these people out of the hell-hole they are embedded into. I salute Travis for actually making this happen.

    This will mean sacrifice on our part. It will be financially costly. It will be personally uncomfortable. It will be relationally challenging. BUT, it will align with the time-honored words which have resonated through 2000 years of human history.

    “Love your neighbor as you do yourself.” — Matthew 22:37

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