Do We Need Another Reminder That Angry Words Are NOT The Same As Actual Physical Violence?

Travis Mateer

Let’s make a critical distinction for the purpose of this post: if I were to say something like YOU NEED TO BE PUNCHED IN THE FACE that is NOT the same thing as actually punching someone in the face. Are we all on the same page with this critical distinction? Good, let’s continue.

We have returned to some confounding public safety terrain here in Zoom Town that seems to put the FEELINGS of safety for our elected officials FAR AHEAD of the ACTUAL safety for this town’s citizens. And there’s no one who has taken bigger risks to bring this disparity to the surface for all of us to see than Veteran and whistleblower, Brandon Bryant.

Here is an image I selected of Bryant with the logo of DEMOCRACY NOW visible. I’m hoping this image will calm down some of our more skittish council members.

What did this Missoula native say to City Council that required a point of order on Monday? Well, watch the clip and see for yourself:

After this comment, something started happening away from the microphone and mostly off camera that resulted in a SECOND point of order being called for.

Here’s the clip:

It took me some time yesterday–time I wouldn’t have had to spend had I been present in Council chambers–but I determined that the claim I first heard regarding who was involved in the off-camera verbal exchange was not accurate.

The messy behavior of humans was front of mind when I returned to Council chambers on Wednesday to provide public comment at the Public Safety, Health and Operations Committee. While I intended to straddle the line between FIERY PASSION and OFFICIAL DECORUM, I was metaphorically disarmed by a gift of chocolate given to me by Council person, Mirtha Becerra. Damn you, Mirtha! How did you know one of my weaknesses (that’s sarcasm, by the way).

After a reminder that Sean Stevenson was NOT kept safe inside the Poverello Center on January 3rd, 2020, I briefly mentioned my very short chat with a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been in town the last few days researching a story about homelessness in Missoula, then I explained some of my own recent struggles with managing my anger and the action steps I have taken to alleviate the concern of others.

Finally, I quickly pointed out how there are differences between things like words/actions and pictures/reality. I used my own t-shirt as a visual aid. Here’s a picture of the t-shirt:

And here’s the comment:

While members of the public, including me, exchange WORDS with our elected leaders, the more visceral risk of PHYSICALLY DANGEROUS members of the public continues, like the non-compliant sex offender who assaulted two MDOT staff last September, and is alleged to be putting Fentanyl on his weed and OD’ing people.

Why is there no accountability for Todd Keith Spence? I have NO good answer for that question, but I DO have a new picture of Todd to share.

This image was taken from inside the Montana Department of Transportation offices, located on Broadway in Missoula, where Spence regularly harasses MDOT staff.

After my comment at Council, I learned of some kind of lethal accident that occurred just days ago, when someone fell off the Orange Street bridge. Here’s an image of the body left on the bike trail in a bodybag:

I went to this location and spoke to the same woman my source spoke to (pictured below in the tie-dyed shirt) and she told me the same story I heard from my source: the deceased, first name Matthew, was leaning on the rail above, fell over, and died. Her response seemed emotionless and rehearsed.

For more visual context, here’s a video clip I took on my bike. The abandoned car garage on the right is where Lee Nelson was brutally murdered, and the span of bridge visible at the end is where the young man supposedly fell to his death.

While the inherent violence of living homeless amidst rampant addiction and mental illness proliferates across our country (because it’s part of a larger war), law enforcement resources are being squandered locally on keeping more privileged people safe from mean words and strong emotions.

To wrap up this post, let me give an example of someone who used language (and a truck) to make me feel threatened, and explain what I did to deter further aggression.

Two young men in a big truck thought it would be funny to yell at me as I was biking on Brooks Street, so after they passed I took my phone out and snapped a picture.

When these assholes took a quick right and started turning around in order to come back at me from behind, I got on the sidewalk with my phone ready to shoot with the only shooting device I currently have access to. They must have realized that fucking with a biker who already snatched their license plate information wasn’t a very good idea.

If you appreciate the work I’m doing, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to support me, while the donation button 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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2 Responses to Do We Need Another Reminder That Angry Words Are NOT The Same As Actual Physical Violence?

    • That Reddit comment wouldn’t exist if I had been attending Council that night. One thing I can sympathize with is not being able to find legal representation, I still haven’t found a non-conflicted lawyer to take my case, and my counter TOP was dismissed just hours after I filed it.

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