arson | Not in Our Town


  Hundreds Gather in Bozeman, MT to Protest Hate   A broad coalition of religious denominations, veteran organizations, Montana State University student groups, and members of Bozeman’s LGBTQ community rallied to send the message to a Kansas-based hate group that their message of hate is not only unwelcome, but outnumbered.   An estimated attendance of 800 people was reported by organizer Jamie Greer of Greater Gallatin Valley for Equality. The majority of people congregated at an ACLU-sponsored Rally For Inclusion, removed from the protest site. The remainder gathered at Bozeman High School, where the three members of the Westboro Baptist Church hate group were picketing.   This is not the first time Bozeman has rallied against hate. According to Beth Shalom Rabbi Ed Stafman, a group of Neo-Nazis organized a rally in Bozeman five years ago, and were met with approximately 1,000 protesters.  
In early September, the Stutte family was putting their lives together after their home in Vonore, Tenn. burned down, save a single wall on which an anti-gay slur was spray-painted. But when Carol Ann Stutte did something seemingly innocuous—she cancelled her hair appointment, mentioning the fire—she unlocked the door to a community that she never knew existed in eastern Tennessee.
Within hours of a fire bomb at a local mosque, citizens gathered to proclaim that hate was not welcome in Corvallis, Ore.  Local police discovered the arson at the city’s Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center early Sunday morning and quickly responded. The fire destroyed an office, but ignited the community.   Just two days before, 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud—who attended the mosque while a student at Oregon State University—was arrested in Portland, Ore. for an alleged plot to set off a bomb during the tree-lighting ceremony in the state’s most populous city. Local activists fear the Corvallis mosque bombing was retribution for the Portland incident.    “By Sunday afternoon, we were all calling each other, asking ‘How should we organize a response?” said Corvallis citizen Laurie Childers. Many acted individually, she added, by bringing flowers and cards to the mosque.
A Rabbi Reflects on the Power of Faith Communities in the Fight Against Hate