Montana’s hate crime law is on the books to protect Montanans against crimes motivated by “race, creed, religion, color, national origin, or involvement in civil rights or human rights activities.”
People are free to hate. They are free to espouse whatever religious views they wish. But when they kill, threaten or vandalize in order to intimidate people they don’t like, or whose religion they disagree with, that crosses a line.
We of the Flathead Valley should recognize the attack against All Families Healthcare for what it is: an assault against our community, the rule of law, and fundamental rights all of us hold dear. This is no mere vandalism, some prankster kid with spray paint. It’s not a burglar eager to empty a safe. To call it “criminal mischief” is ridiculous. It is much more sinister.
It was an attack on the reproductive rights of all women, no matter how they choose to express that right. It was an attack on the privacy rights of everyone who ever has seen a doctor, as the vandal pillaged patient records. It was a personal attack, as evidenced by the savage destruction of family photos.
All this three blocks from the police station. The perpetrator clearly did not care about getting caught. He was trying to make a point.
There is no place for this kind of action in a civilized community. Now is the time to step up in support of Susan Cahill and all others who bravely do sometimes unpopular, but necessary, work. The perpetrator of this crime should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If the state won’t do it, the feds should step in.
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