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Old 09-19-2005, 10:28 AM   #1
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Mont. town confronts racist label

This is what the public needs to know. The truth about whats really going on in these towns.

09/18/2005

Mont. town confronts racist label

Reports of tension between Indians and whites have led to federal
intervention in Havre.

By Michael Riley
Denver Post Staff Writer

http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_3039249


Havre, Mont. - Surrounded by fields of knee-high wheat and rolling prairie,
Havre proudly shows off the icons of an All-American town: city bands and
manicured parks, high school mascots and flags on porches.

Residents wave to each other on the street and call the mayor by his first
name. It's the kind of place where strangers in bars can linger only a few
minutes before regulars send over a drink.

Unless you're an American Indian.

Sitting on a bar stool during happy hour at the Golden Spike, Jerry Hayes,
who is white, describes recently inviting a group of American Indian college
students he teaches out for pizza and a beer.

"I said, 'Why don't we go to 15 West? 'They said, 'They don't like Indians
there.' So I said, 'How about the Golden Spike?' They said that was worse," said

Hayes, who teaches biology on nearby Rocky Boy's Reservation.

It soon became clear that "they didn't want to come to town because of the
way they would be treated," Hayes said.

Media attention erupts

Those tensions are not new. Towns near Montana's seven reservations have long
had reputations for strained relations between Indians and whites.

But a series of events in Havre - a newspaper article, the distribution of
racially charged leaflets and the intervention of a Justice Department mediator
- have combined to transform this town tucked between two reservations into an
emblem of racial strife.

"This racist thing has gotten everyone's attention," said Bob Rice, the
Republican mayor of the town of 10,000 who admits to "losing some sleep" over
it.

He was at a public event recently when bikers from California approached him
and asked if he was "that racist."

" 'No,' I said, 'I am the mayor of a town accused of being racist,' " Rice
said he told them. "But it took me aback."

Havre now finds itself in that unenviable position of places like Benton
Harbor, Mich., and Lewiston, Maine - towns where a racial spark came to define a

larger struggle to cope with the nation's racial divide.

In Benton Harbor, population 11,000, the death of 28-year-old Terrance Shurn
during a police chase in 2003 produced angry protests and the focus of
national civil-rights leaders. In Lewiston, population 36,000, efforts by the
city to
stop a wave of Somali refugees resettling there in 2002 brought network-TV
trucks and reporters.

"We empathize. We understand," said Phil Nadeau, assistant city manager in
Lewiston. "This is emotional stuff, when your integrity is being questioned."

Among the damage-control duties of the Havre mayor these days is juggling
media interviews, and in almost all of them Rice begins by admitting the town
has
problems.

"We are not unlike any town near a reservation. We've got people who are
bigots, and (American Indians) have got people who are bigots, too," he said.
"I'm
not saying it's a perfect world."

Students investigate

The attitudes in Havre were spotlighted this spring when the University of
Montana School of Journalism's Native News Project sent a pair of student
journalists to the town as part of an investigation of race relations in the
state.
They spent several days reporting, said Carol Van Valkenburg, chairwoman of
the university's print journalism department, and talked to dozens of people.

The image the students left with - which was published as inserts in the
state's three largest newspapers - was damning.

It recounts a scene from a Friday night at the Golden Spike as a white
customer mocks four Indians until they leave the bar. It quotes the bar's owner
saying how to tell a "good Indian." At the town's upscale department store, a
clerk says she scrutinizes American Indians more carefully when looking for
shoplifters.

Not long after, leaflets appeared at dozens of homes in town. This time the
vitriol flowed the other way. "(Expletive) whites. (Expletive) America. Get the
(expletive) off our land," said the leaflet, which was signed "Native Pride"
and included a drawing of an upside- down, burning American flag.

The eruption has brought the intervention of the Justice Department's
Community Relations Service. Established under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the
office's mediators specialize in defusing racial strife.

Grace Sage, a Denver-based mediator, has made two trips to Havre, the most
recent in early August. She will return in October to present her findings, said

the agency's deputy director, Stephen Thom, and outline possible remedies,
from formal mediation to community hearings.

The mediation is done in private, and both sides have to agree for any steps
to be implemented.

But the tensions in Havre are bitter and long-standing, locals and experts
say. They have historical undertones and in many cases have been passed through
generations.

Informal racism

As the afternoon light fades and a crowd pours onto the grounds of the Hill
County fair, Havre presents a placid picture of small-town America.

Groups of American Indians and whites stroll the neon-lit fairway. They slurp
sodas and munch on buffalo burgers, a local specialty.

But anger lingers close to the surface.

Sitting on a picnic table under a red, white and blue awning, Bryan Ruhkamp,
thickset in a worn T-shirt and cap, complains that the negative image of
American Indians stems from their own behavior.

"The government just hands out so much to these reservations," said Ruhkamp,
42, who works in an agricultural-supply store. "I try and make ends meet with
my paycheck. But you go to the grocery store and here's this cart loaded with
meat and everything else and they're loading it into a brand-new vehicle."

Four tables away, Clara Bauer and Audrey Flansburg, both American Indians,
talk about the difficulties Indians have renting from white landlords in town.
They recall being called "squaw" and other racial slurs by strangers.

Whites "don't experience it like Indians do. Maybe that's why they don't see
a problem," said Flansburg, 25, who works at a dry-cleaners in town.

Many Indians here can tick off the names of stores where they say they have
been shadowed by clerks. They complain they often face insults and stereotyping
in schools, restaurants and stores.

Lloyd Top Sky, a college professor from Rocky Boy's, said that after a clerk
put Top Sky's groceries in bags, the clerk put the bags on the floor and
walked away. Top Sky watched as he went to another line, bagged the groceries of
a
white customer and took them out.

Joe Feagin, the author of six books on race in America, said those complaints
sound familiar.

He's heard them in his own interviews hundreds of times by African-Americans
and Hispanics and in just about every region of the country.

"During the '60s we passed civil-rights laws to end official discrimination,
and a lot of us say, 'Well, we took care of it,' " Feagin said.

What remains, he said, is an informal racism.

Feagin said he recently asked 800 white college students to keep diaries,
identifying incidents of racism and discrimination they observed over a two-
month period.

They described jokes, conversations with their parents, things their friends
did - a total of 8,000 incidents.

"I've been at this 40 years, and I was surprised at the level of racist
behavior going on just behind the public stage," Feagin said.

Mayor: "It will go away"

In Havre, residents are angered and befuddled by the attention.

Denise Landenburg, president of the Havre Chamber of Commerce, said she
barely recognized the community described in the University of Montana students'

article. She said that while the chamber will be open to the Justice
Department's conclusions, there are no concrete steps planned in response to the
article.


Quotes in the student article were "the few silly responses of those few
employees who need diversity training," Landenburg said. "In general, we get
along."

The town's mayor also said he's not inclined to embrace formal mediation or
other lengthy steps.

"Once people have the opportunity to digest everything, I think it will go
away," Rice said.

But Nadeau, the assistant city manager of Lewiston, said his community may
offer different lessons.

After 1,400 Somali refugees poured into town over just a few months, the
mayor sent an open letter asking them to stop coming.

The letter sparked protests, massive media attention and finally an effort at
reconciliation.

CRS helped create a task force. The city began a dialogue with Somali
leaders. Progress has been slow, Nadeau said, but real.

"You've got to be proactive. We're still working on this three years later,"
he said.

For Rice, Nadeau believes he has some good advice: "I understand that they
might see comfort in trying not to fuel the interest of the media. But our
experience showed that our transparency is effectively what got us through it
more
quickly."

"It's not a win-win situation for anybody, but it's also something you have
to work on. ... It won't go away by itself."


Staff writer Michael Riley can be reached at 303-820-1614 or
[email protected].
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Old 09-19-2005, 10:51 AM   #2
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Old 09-19-2005, 10:24 PM   #3
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Angry What The F*#@

(Mayor: "It will go away"

In Havre, residents are angered and befuddled by the
attention.
Denise Landenburg, president of the Havre Chamber of Commerce, said she barely recognized the community described in the University of Montana students' article.

She said that while the chamber will be open to the Justice Department's conclusions,there are no concrete steps planned in response to the article.
The town's mayor also said he's not inclined to embrace formal mediation or other lengthy steps.
"Once people have the opportunity to digest everything, I think it will go away," Rice said.)
__________________________________________________ __

It will never go away as long as these RACIST REDNECK @$$HOLE$ are in charge. Seems to me that the mayor and the president of the chamber of commerce are the BIGGEST RACIST REDNECK @$$HOLE$ in that little town and they are the ones keeping it alive and going , so of course "there are no concrete steps planned in response to the article" , and of course they are not "inclined to embrace formal mediation or other lengthy steps".
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Old 09-20-2005, 11:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hatfield589
(Mayor: "It will go away"

In Havre, residents are angered and befuddled by the
attention.
Denise Landenburg, president of the Havre Chamber of Commerce, said she barely recognized the community described in the University of Montana students' article.

She said that while the chamber will be open to the Justice Department's conclusions,there are no concrete steps planned in response to the article.
The town's mayor also said he's not inclined to embrace formal mediation or other lengthy steps.
"Once people have the opportunity to digest everything, I think it will go away," Rice said.)
__________________________________________________ __

It will never go away as long as these RACIST REDNECK @$$HOLE$ are in charge. Seems to me that the mayor and the president of the chamber of commerce are the BIGGEST RACIST REDNECK @$$HOLE$ in that little town and they are the ones keeping it alive and going , so of course "there are no concrete steps planned in response to the article" , and of course they are not "inclined to embrace formal mediation or other lengthy steps".
I know I cant believe his responses. You can just tell he is racist. Problems like these wont just go away.
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Old 09-20-2005, 12:43 PM   #5
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Sounds alot like the large town I grew up near, and it's worse nowadays! Cowboys and Injuns, and still alot of hate.
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Old 09-20-2005, 01:21 PM   #6
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"The government just hands out so much to these reservations," said Ruhkamp,
42, who works in an agricultural-supply store. "I try and make ends meet with
my paycheck. But you go to the grocery store and here's this cart loaded with
meat and everything else and they're loading it into a brand-new vehicle."

HEY WHERE'S MY BRAND NEW VEHICLE?!? THAT I'M LOADING UP WITH ALL THAT MEAT AND EVERYTHING ELSE - SHYT!!
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