Outdoor Block Party Celebrating Love, Not Hate, Draws Hundreds

Whitefish rally in sub-zero temperatures showcases community of diversity and love

Hundreds of Whitefish residents gathered in the bitter cold Saturday morning for an outdoor block party to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in a mountain town that has been roiled by discrimination from afar.

The patchwork assemblage of faith leaders, business owners, artists, musicians, families, and friends stood out in stark contrast to a community tableau that has emerged recently in national media profiles, and evinced a small-town solidarity that defies the skewed perception that a white nationalist movement has taken root here.

While a flurry of attention has been paid to part-time resident and alt-right leader Richard Spencer and his connection to the town — garnering notice from a neo-Nazi website that has targeted local members of the Jewish faith — Saturday’s events focused squarely on Whitefish’s spirit of acceptance, showcasing musical performances and speeches delivered by a diverse cast of community leaders and artists.

The event included songs by Blackfeet singer and storyteller Jack Gladstone and his daughter, Mariah Gladstone, as well as remarks by Whitefish City Councilor Richard Hildner, Mennonite Pastor Jeryl Hollinger, and Hilary Shaw, executive director of the Abbie Shelter.

Shaw, whose grandfather is a Holocaust survivor, was among the speakers who addressed their Jewish faith, which has been singled out in recent online postings attacking the community.

Referencing the attacks against Whitefish’s Jewish population, Shaw encouraged residents to band together in peace rather than in anger, and to embrace the aspects of mountain culture that make the town unique.

“Go outside,” she said. “People that play together, stay together. I don’t believe that people are born bad. But I do believe that hurt people hurt people.”

Shaw was speaking of the campaign of harassment launched against members of the local Jewish community who live and own businesses here, and which culminated in a neo-Nazi website’s vow to organize an armed march through the streets of Whitefish and harass individuals online. The website — The Daily Stormer — called its actions an “old fashioned troll storm.”

Still, instead of focusing attention on the melee that has stemmed from the online postings, which also centered on Spencer and his so-called alt-right movement, locals coordinated a celebration called “Love Not Hate,” accentuating the many strands of acceptance in Whitefish and inviting a suite of speakers, singers, artists, and city leaders to address the crowd.

Students from local hula dance school Halau Ka Waikahe Lani Malie performed, while Missoula resident Andrea Castillo spoke about her experiences growing up as a Native American who is also gay, and the discriminatory repercussions that she has faced. Despite them, she has found acceptance in Montana.

“I have finally found a home where not everybody hates me,” she said of her roots here.

Rabbi Francine Roston, a Jewish leader who has been the target of some of the online postings, delivered a speech encouraging community fellowship.

“In the darkest nights of winter, this town, you beautiful people, this state and all of our elected representatives, you all lifted us up and we are so grateful,” she said. “You let us know that we are not alone. You let us know that our community, that our amazing, magnificent little town of Whitefish is not only protected by great defined mountains of earth but that this town is protected by a humanity that refuses to be quiet or sit still in the face of bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, or anti semitism.”

The event was organized by Jessica Laferriere, 34, and Dominica Cleveras, 33, who grew determined to prove that white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups did not define the community they loved, even as media coverage of the recent controversy obscured the celebratory tenor they were aiming to strike. Still, they hatched a plan for a community-wide celebration of diversity and acceptance of all people regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender and gender identification, physical abilities and socio-economic status.

According to Laferriere, it was a success.

“I think this shows exactly how Whitefish feels,” she said after the event, which drew more than 300 attendees.

  • What about the Brock Party down in Houston?
    Whoa.

    • Richard Jones

      You have TV in your cave?

      • I don’t live in a cave.
        I’ve never lived in a cave.
        Have you seen the prices on caves lately?

  • Christopher Cunningham

    It was good to attend. I got to chat with interesting people, including organizers with the Democratic Socialists of America, a Democratic candidate from Kalispell who ran for the state legislature this past year, and a kindly visitor from Seattle who is traveling to gather personal stories from people to better understand partisan divides and break down stereotypes through the retelling of what Clinton and Trump supporters say.

    My camera was being a bit uncooperative – most of my shots from the event didn’t turn out well – but between the free cinnamon rolls, aforementioned chats, opportunity to see many coworkers during off hours, and outpouring of local support it was a great time. It’s been a long while since I last felt this proud to be part of the community here, and it was a delight to be reminded of how much mainstream solidarity there is to embrace diversity.

  • The celebration of diversity could be heard from the muted screams inside the free Islamic female genital mutilation tent. On the other hand, I felt the child jihad photo booth was in bad taste, particularly the bloody knife and headless Christian dummy.

    There was also a talk by an Islamic cleric on the most righteous ways to beat one’s wife. Curiously Rhett was outside that tent holding up a sign that read, “Nothing to see here you white supremacist hypocrites.”

    • Rhett the Butler

      When you’re ready to hold your own countrymen and women responsible for their grievous actions against women and children and when you’re ready to stop portraying 2.2 billion Muslims as uniformly like-minded, let me know.

      • Eloquently spoken by the Flathead Valley’s resident CAIR spokesperson and Muslim apologist and self-hating white liberal.

        • Rhett the Butler

          Such a silly boy trying to wrongly tie me to CAIR, let alone declare I have any fans of any kind. If wish to believe the myths,fables and legends of religions, that’s your problem.

          Clean up your own house.
          ==========
          Fundamentalist and conservative evangelical parents will meet in Wichita, Kansas, this November to arrange marriages for their teen daughters. Quiverfull guru Vaughn Ohlman, who runs a website promoting early, “fruitful” marriage for Christian children, has announced plans for a “Let Them Marry” retreat where parents can arrange suitable marriages for their teen children.

          The weekend retreat is “designed to bring together like-minded families who are committed to young, fruitful marriage and to help them overcome the barriers which have kept their children unmarried.”

          According to the website’s Frequently Asked Questions marriage is appropriate between the ages of 13-20, but no later, because:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/05/conference-will-arrange-child-marriages-for-christian-homeschoolers/
          ===========

          How many times have you pressed F5 so far?

          • I may be wrong about CAIR or fans, but you proved yet again you absolutely refuse to condemn any teaching of Islam, including pedophilia, homophobia, misogyny.

            Why?

          • Rhett the Butler

            Why would I condemn the practice of a religion? That would violate the First Amendment.

            You support Putin yet his policies against the LGBT in Russia are repressive. You support T Rump yet his attitude towards woman is misogynistic. Then there was T Rump wanting to “date” (schtup) his teenage daughter if she wasn’t his daughter.

            Examine your own cognitive dissonance before you project it onto others.

          • So let me get this straight:

            1. If Islamic fundamentalists throw gays off buildings as punishment, you won’t condemn that because it is religiously motivated.

            2. If Putin represses gays, you condemn that why?

          • Rhett the Butler

            I didn’t say that yet you keep trying to twist what is said.
            Both actions are uncalled for.

        • Perrico de los Palotes

          You have to make allowance for the fact that Rhett is mentally ill. He’s a homosexual.

          • Rhett the Butler

            Nope, still not gay. Interesting how obsessed you are with this fallacy.

          • Caddisfly

            You do know that to the enlightened person, calling them a homosexual, gay, queer or any other term is not offensive. We accept people for who they are, if their actions are between two consenting people then what is the problem. For someone who portends to be a Christian, you are not very Christ like.

          • Richard Jones

            Aw, is Perrico getting ever more desperate for attention?

            Ake is waiting to molest you

  • Fast

    The “White Trash” have been moving to the northwest ( since the 1960’s ) with their ” BS ” and it’s sad that in recent year’s 🤔 they have got traction in Bigfork – ie at the food pantry and churches ✝️✝️✝️✝️✝️ YA!!! Whitefish ” 💯 good for u

  • Perrico de los Palotes

    300 worthless losers celebrating the extinction of their kind.

    • Caddisfly

      Pot meet kettle.

  • Richard Pressnall

    “gender and gender identification”?

    “Consider our ruling class’s very latest demand: Americans must agree that someone with a penis can be a woman, while someone else with a vagina can be a man. Complying with such arbitrariness is beyond human capacity”.

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/the-rise-of-political-correctness/

    • Rhett the Butler

      The Claremont Institute, a rightwingnut think tank in Cally for nee ah.

      Maybe they should learn about chromosomes.

      Certainly you should, and much more.

    • Ake_Odinsson

      It’s a violation of natural law.

  • Richard Pressnall

    Previously, the Southern Poverty Law Center was used as an unchallenged source. Here’s another view:

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/265403/hate-group-tracks-down-hate-groups-john-perazzo

    • Rhett the Butler

      Ah yes. David Horowitz’s rightwingnut answer to the SPLC. His parents were members of the Communist Party USA.

    • Hermie

      Shouldn’t they be called the Southern Filthy Rich Law Center?

  • disqus_123ragnorok

    Antisemitism is seeing a world wide resurgence, and yes, I hear some of it from Christians, cause after all…” they killed Jesus”
    Time to put your differences aside, and stamp out this insane, hateful movement. Remember, Hitler did not only try to wipe out the Jewish people, but all dissidents, gypsies, homosexuals, and many others who got in his way.
    Good job, whitefish!!!

    • Rhett the Butler

      Why the sudden change of heart, white supremacyst?

      • disqus_123ragnorok

        I’m still me… You are still an islamophile.. Islam is the biggest antisemetic group. Any more questions?

        • Rhett the Butler

          So you’re a white supremacyst but not anti-Semitic, is that right? Did you know Arabs are Semites?

          • disqus_123ragnorok

            You don’t understand, as usual. I like myself, and my race. You seem to have ” white guilt”.
            I don’t agree with haters, and have seen the historical consequences of those movements. You, and the others of the left seem to be approaching a similar level of intolerance, and dislike of those dissimilar to yourself.
            Might be time to check your ego, and look to our common values, and interests…..

          • Rhett the Butler

            uh huh

          • Richard Jones

            You are an a$$Hole.

          • disqus_123ragnorok

            Wasnt talking to you, loser…

          • Richard Jones

            Aw, did I hurt the little snowflakes feelings?

          • disqus_123ragnorok

            Take more than your punk a$$….

          • Richard Jones

            Uh huh.

          • hobojack

            Well Rhett, in the eyes of the Jew, they are the only Semites!

    • Ake_Odinsson

      If Hitler had tried to wipe out the Jewish rats he would have.
      Only complete retards believe in the holohoax.

    • Hermie

      You are right. It is time to stamp out Jewish Supremacism as it is rampant in Whitefish!

  • Ake_Odinsson

    If the holocaust had actually happened there wouldn’t be any survivors.

    • Richard Jones

      When is your court date Samuel?

  • Deplorable Michelle

    Love lives here, what does that even mean. Shoulds like BLM, FakeNews, Crooked Hiltery
    If your elite leftist town has to profess we have love, no you don’t. You have hate against a Mother, son because they think differently from you, isn’t that the beauty of difference.
    60 million of us are taking our country back from snowflakes, I need my blankie, safe space. The rhetoric these hateful groups spew is over … 1/20/17 MAGA 🇺🇸

    • Rhett the Butler

      Bugger off, moron.

    • Richard Jones

      How is that whole Mexico is going to pay for the wall campaign promise coming along?

  • Hermie

    Did the outdoor block party have the proper permitting that was required of the Daily Stormer to have their march? I highly doubt it. This represents Jewish Supremacism at its finest.

  • Hermie

    I am calling on the police to arrest Tanya Gersh who was extorting Sherry Spencer. If the police had done their duty in the first place, this would never have happened.

  • Hermie

    White people of Montana, maybe this is what the Jewish Supremacist group “Love Lives Here” has in store for you.
    https://youtu.be/2tFsgo7S8n4