The city manager of Whitefish has notified the publisher of a neo-Nazi website of certain conditions required for a possible march through downtown, including the prohibition of any weapons.
Chuck Stearns on Jan. 12 issued a letter to Andrew Anglin with The Daily Stormer explaining that he would approve the special event permit for a march through downtown as long as specific requirements were met. The conditions include a stipulation that there cannot be any weapons, and Stearns cited the specific Montana law that gives cities the power to prevent weapons at a public assembly.
Two weeks ago, the neo-Nazi and white supremacist website mailed the city an incomplete application seeking a permit to hold a public march, which was purportedly scheduled for Jan. 16 but subsequently postponed. The incomplete application included a $60 money order, well short of the city’s required $125 fee for parades. Also, the application did not include a certificate of insurance, a map of the planned route or a checklist of other items required before the city reviews an application.
»»» Click here to read Stearns’ letter to The Daily Stormer.
Stearns, who has the authority to approve or reject special event permit requests, said Anglin would have to submit the full fee amount, which is $125. He said the city would waive the requirement for a certificate of insurance “so as not to limit your right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” Stearns wrote.
Stearns also said the city would waive the requirement that Anglin notify adjacent property owners along the potential route, which was on Second Street from Memorial Park to City Hall.
“We will do that notification ourselves in this case,” Stearns wrote.
Stearns said anyone involved in the march would need to load up on buses and leave the City Hall site at the conclusion of the march because “there is no place to assemble.” The march would only be allowed, “for public safety purposes,” to go from Fourth Street between Pine Avenue and Fir Avenue and travel north on Pine Avenue to East Second Street and west on East Second Street to City Hall on Baker Avenue.
Stearns also said Anglin would be required to provide 10 portable toilets on East Fourth Street at the assembly site to accommodate the roughly 200 attendees that Anglin said would attend.
“If your future march remains the same as the existing Application for Special Event which we have on file, I would approve your Special Event Permit with conditions as allowed by Whitefish City Code, Section 7-4-1 B,” Stearns wrote.
Stearns said he would keep the website’s original incomplete application on file for two months “in case you wish to reactivate it and provide a new date for the march.”
Anglin, who has spearheaded an online “troll storm” aimed at Whitefish, claims the march will be rescheduled “probably for some time in February.”
Stearns released the letter to the public outlining the conditions and added in an email to media, “So while they may be able to march in the future, given their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly rights, they will have to do so without weapons.”
The prospect of a possible neo-Nazi march, along with the online harassment that local religious leaders and businesses have had to endure, has attracted significant attention. Cities across Montana, such as Havre, Great Falls and Bozeman, and the state’s Congressional delegation and governor, have pledged their support for the community of Whitefish.
An event in downtown two weeks ago celebrated the community’s diversity and inclusivity with hundreds attending.
On Jan. 16, about 50 self-proclaimed anti-fascists gathered in downtown Whitefish to show solidarity with the community.