Local Group Wins Human Rights Award

By Beacon Staff

A Flathead-based group that has protested local white separatists is looking to become more organized and a recent award from the Montana Human Rights Network will only help that cause. Love Lives Here was presented the 2012 Walt Brown Award last week in recognition of its work over the last three years, according to Executive Director Travis McAdam.

“We give (the award) to groups who are doing outstanding things for human rights and who are making our communities safer places,” McAdam said.

According Ina Albert, the informal group first gathered to protest Holocaust denial films being shown at the Kalispell Public Library by anti-Semitic organizations. Albert helped organize the first protest and many that followed. She said her group wants to combat the image that the Flathead Valley has become a haven for extremists. To continue those efforts, Albert said the group needs to grow and evolve.

“We’re in the process of putting together a plan to make Love Lives Here not just a loose confederation of folks, but a structured organization,” she said.

Albert said receiving the award will help bring attention and aid in fundraising, a new necessity for the expanding group, which includes members of various religious and community backgrounds.

McAdam said the Human Rights Network was established in 1990 to support efforts to end racism and stop extremist organizations. He said that while some communities attempt to ignore white separatists, the best course of action is to actively oppose the groups through protests and Love Lives Here is a prime example of those efforts.

“We want to make it clear that white supremacists don’t represent the values of most people in this community,” he said.

The Montana Human Rights Network and Love Lives Here held an award reception on Feb. 18.