Reject agendas spreading message of fear, hostility

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Whitefish, Montana is our home. We raise our kids here, we’re regulars at our favorite local cafes and watering holes downtown, and we know the surrounding public lands like the back of our hand. We swap stories from our latest outings: “The bears are already out in Haskill Basin!” we’ll say each spring, and around this time of year it changes to, “when do you think it will snow on Logan Pass?”

Public lands bring us all together. Glacier Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and Big Mountain draw folks to our community from around the world. And these places are the reason many of us choose to call Whitefish home. They are the great unifier of our community — no matter one’s political stripes, we all share a love of the land. And we love our town because of that.

A couple years ago our town banded together and rose up against attacks from white supremacist groups who wanted to come here and spread their hateful message. We wouldn’t tolerate it. Now, another extreme group is trying to take stage here: an anti-Indian, anti-public lands group called “This West is Our West.” They’ll be hosting an event in Whitefish on Oct. 13 at which Ammon Bundy will be speaking. Bundy led the armed takeover of Malheur National Monument and participated in the standoff against federal and local law enforcement at his father Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.

Here in the Flathead, public land managers and Native American folks are our neighbors. They are as much a part of our community as anyone. That’s one primary reason we simply cannot allow the Bundy agenda to find any legitimacy here. They have the right to speak about their ideas, just as we do. But their views do not represent who we are as a community, nor who we are as Montanans.

Whitefish is a welcoming community that loves the great outdoors. We are a town of thriving, friendly local businesses, of neighbors who help pull each other out of snow banks in the winter who slow down for kids walking to school. Our town includes faith communities that offer free meals one night a week. And we can always find an excuse to grab a beer with a friend to swap stories about our best powder days on Big Mountain.

This is Whitefish, Montana. We love public lands. We respect our neighbors. We reject agendas that spread fear, hostility, and divisiveness. Let’s make sure the world knows this about Whitefish. Join us at Montana Undivided: A Rally for Human Rights and Public Lands on Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. in Depot Park for a peaceful demonstration of our values.

Ina Albert, Jesse Ballew Kuntz, Bjorn Beer, Melissa Hartman, Richard Hildner, Suzanne Hildner, Karin Hilding, Jan Metzmaker, Michelle Saurey, Jennifer Runnells, Roy Scruggs and Joan Vetter Ehrenberg

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