GREAT FALLS — Some Great Falls residents have recently received what the police department is calling divisive literature.
Many parts of the country, Great Falls included, held Juneteenth celebrations on Saturday June 17th,2023. The Electric City’s festivities were marred by some controversial propaganda.
“Basically from Gibson Park to almost 38th Street, not the entire way, we did receive some complaints that people found the literature on their sidewalks,” said Lt. Doug Mahlum, Public Information Officer with the Great Falls Police Department.
Great Falls resident Susie McIntyre was one who received the literature, inside a baggie weighed down by sand. She says she’s saddened someone would try breeding hatred in the community.
“I'm proud of my Scottish and Slavic heritage, but I'm also very proud to live in a community that has black and brown and all sorts of diverse people,” said McIntyre. “I hate that this went out and possibly made my neighbors and my friends feel unsafe and unwelcome.”
Mahlum says stickers with divisive message posted in Gibson Park were taken down by city employees.
He says its not illegal to hand out flyers to people willing to take them, but the public can report materials left on their property as suspicious behavior.
“Specifically, if they see the individual that may be dropping it off, we want to at least have contact with them and make sure they know they can't trespass on the people's property,” said Mahlum.
Mahlum adds if you find the material on your sidewalk and don’t want anything to do with it, simply throw it away. He also urges people to proceed with caution.
“Understand that it's a one sided source. You don't know what you may be getting into,” said Mahlum. “It may direct you to some Internet, an area on the Internet, whether it be websites, applications on a phone, whatever it may be. I don't know what they are. I don't know where they're taking people to. So I would caution people on that”
McIntyre believes a small minority is behind the incident. She was hoping someone may have picked up something on a security camera but so far no one has stepped forward.
She says the Montana Human Rights Network is aware and she hopes people continue to celebrate diversity.
“I hope that everyone takes the time to reach out to their neighbors and supports being welcoming and inclusive,” said McIntyre.
“The Great Falls that I know, the Great Falls that the police department knows is a very inclusive community,” said Mahlum. “And that is not what this type of these fliers are about.”
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