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Missoula, Montana Police Launch Campaign Against Anti-Gay Bias Crimes


Missoula, Montana (a town close to my own heart) has launched a campaign to stop bias-related crime in the city. It's being spearheaded by the city's police department with a website along with billboards and radio spots.

ScottoakNew West Missoula reports: "The effort has its roots in the work of a Missoula Police officer who reached out to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community in Missoula after some gays—and young men and women perceived to be gay—were savagely beaten in unprovoked attacks. The officer drew up a form for reporting hate crimes and bias, said Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir. In those early days, the department received two complaints, but since then, none. 'We had a concern that that happens when something isn’t well enough known,' Muir said. Sgt. Casey Richardson and Spider McKnight of the local ad agency Salt Studio, as well as others, raised money, built a Web site and otherwise pushed forward the idea of publicizing the department’s efforts to bring bias out of the dark. In the end, the group raised $12,000 to fund an advertising campaign...Gender issues were a focus of the most recent campaign. Muir said the departments wants to address racial bias, too."

Added Muir: "We’re looking forward to improved reporting on these issues. That’s what we’re leaning toward tackling, as a bias. We want to make sure we’re rounding the bases to fight these bias issues. It’s unconventional for a city of a law enforcement body to do something like this. The biggest obstacle would be the financial side of it. We wouldn’t be able to do it without the community."

As a side note, the gay officer who initiated this whole campaign, Scott Oak, we last heard went off to serve in Afghanistan in 2007 (no word if he's back), leaving behind his partner of 12 years and the teenage foster son they're raising together.

Stop Bias [official site]

Montana Gay Bashing Brings Out Gay Officer [tr]
Gay Montana Police Officer Tapped for Afghanistan Mission [tr]

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  1. I'm in Missoula, have started to see the posters in businesses downtown. Really hoping it will have an impact. Happy to see this on your fantastic site! Keep up the great work.

    Posted by: Steve | Sep 5, 2008 2:05:09 PM

  2. Is Missoula where that kid was killed a few years back who was gay?

    Posted by: tom | Sep 5, 2008 2:45:30 PM

  3. I'm from Montana, born and raised in Helena, attended the University in Missoula. I'm SO HAPPY to read this! Even back in the 80's when I attended the U there was a much more liberal attitude in Mizoo, so I'm not completely surprised by this. But happy nonetheless!

    Posted by: Sean | Sep 5, 2008 3:26:16 PM

  4. UM grad here, so happy to see this. I find living as an out, gay man in Bozeman a little more dangerous than Missoula, but nothing like Great Falls (bashed in 2002)

    Posted by: bozemanmt | Sep 5, 2008 3:50:53 PM

  5. Hurray! Grew up in Polson and went to U of M (early '80's), before transferring to Minnesota for the Twin Cities gay scene. Live in SF now, but I still think fondly of Missoula and all of Western Montana. Good for Missoula!

    Posted by: Ted | Sep 6, 2008 2:42:46 AM

  6. Bravo to the police and council members for being brave enough to put this program together. Another reason to not vote republican!

    Posted by: William Miller | Sep 6, 2008 10:12:55 AM

  7. A police department in Montana is light years ahead of the NYPD. sigh

    Posted by: libhomo | Sep 6, 2008 3:35:19 PM

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