The police chief in Whitefish, Montana told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that while he is preparing for an armed march promoted by white supremacists, he believes it won't happen and dismissed it as "just rhetoric on the internet."
Andrew Anglin, founder of The Daily Stormer — described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a neo-Nazi website — said in a post last week he'll be able to gather 200 people, including "busing in skinheads from the Bay Area" and members of the Whitefish community, to "participate in a march, which will be against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either."
Anglin organized the march following a controversy around the mother of Richard Spencer, a resident of the town and white nationalist leader who coined the term “alt-right." Sherry Spencer wrote in a post on Medium that she was forced to consider selling her building in Whitefish — which contains vacation-rental apartments and office spaces — after receiving “terrible threats” from a local realtor and human rights organizations.
In the Dec. 22 post Anglin also called on people to contact what he deemed are local "Jewish businesses" to continue "our barrage against the criminal Jews of Whitefish and their racketeering cartel" and threaten boycotts.
A business owner in Whitefish, who asked to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed News that on December 23 and 24 he fielded about 15 emails and at least 10 phone calls a day. "Some of them were a little threatening," he said. "One of them ... it was just bad. It was hate speech." He refused to go into further detail about the call.
By Sunday, the messages stopped, he said, adding that most calls came in from blocked numbers.
Whitefish police chief Bill Dial told BuzzFeed News an application for a permit for the march has not been submitted. Anglin's post does not provide a specific date for the march, saying "we’re shooting for the second week of January."
Dial said all marches require permits from the city, adding that there is no strict rule for when permits applications need to be received. Dial said permits are usually approved within a few days.
"There are no plans that we're aware of," Dial said. "As a matter of fact ... I'm pretty confident there will be no march."
"We have no information that it's actually planned," he said. "It's just rhetoric on the internet."
Still, Dial said his officers will be ready, saying, "if there will be a march were planning for the worst hoping for the best." He told local KPAX that, "we're hoping that they choose not to do it, but once again it's well within their rights to do it."
Montana elected officials released a statement yesterday condemning anti-Semitic harassment. The statement was signed by Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Steve Daines, Rep. Ryan Zinke, Gov. Steve Bullock, and Attorney General Tim Fox.
“Rest assured, any demonstration or threat of intimidation against any Montanan’s religious liberty will not be tolerated. It takes all Montanans working together to eradicate religious intolerance,” the statement reads.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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