On a beautiful sunny Saturday, July 25, Black Lives Matter supporters, and those who represented veterans groups, churches and conservative organizations gathered in many areas of downtown Missoula to express their views.

On the lawn of the Missoula County Courthouse and on Higgins, many were walking down the sidewalks bearing signs, chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’, and listening to Missoula Community Radio continuously air an interview with an African American man who said he was terrorized by several people and then he said that Missoula Police refused to prosecute the incident as a hate crime.

The City of Missoula released information about that case late Friday afternoon.

KGVO spoke with a variety of individuals who were willing to share their views.

One protester who said he was a former federal law enforcement officer gave his views about the nation’s current leadership.

“The idiot in charge is ramping it up, specifically in Portland now, with his jack-booted thugs, one of which I used to be, and had I been ordered to do what they did, I would have told them to stick it up their behinds,” he said. “For a federal law enforcement officer, it’s as unconstitutional as hell.”

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Susan Campbell Reneau of the United Veterans Council said she had notified law enforcement on Thursday evening that several white vans, similar to ones she saw when President Trump spoke at Mt. Rushmore, were in Missoula for Saturday’s protest.

“I was extremely proud of the Missoula City Police Department,” she said. “They swept in (in front of the Courthouse) and informed the Black Lives Matter and Antifa people that they were not welcome to set up at the Missoula Courthouse.”

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Dakota is a gay man who walked right into the group of veterans who were standing around the Doughboy Statue in order to protect it from vandalism, and expressed his views about the various sides communicating with each other more freely.

“I would like to see conservatives and right wingers open up their minds a little bit,” he said. “To try to understand our side a little bit. I would also like Black Lives Matter to engage them more so that we can convey our message.”

A Missoula veteran, Stephen, explained why he joined those who were protecting the monument.

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“We’re here as patriots, and myself as a veteran, want to make sure that the statue stays where it is, and we are continuing to honor those veterans that it was designed to honor."

Dawson, wearing a Black Lives Matter face masks joined in the conversation about the injustice he and many others see is affecting the nation’s minorities.

“We have a justice system that, unfortunately for people of color, don’t get treated the same,” he said. “They don’t receive the same justice and there’s just not adequate recognition of that, and there’s no actionable plan in place to create equity and equality for all people.”

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Finally, Missoula Pastor Bruce Speer expressed his dismay over what is happening all over America.

“It is a shame and a disgrace what’s going on in Portland and other cities,” he said. “We don’t want anything like that happening here in Missoula. I think good people need to stand up for what is right.”

Missoula police vehicles and officers were in plain sight all during the protest.

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