March to support refugee resettlement in Missoula planned - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

March to support refugee resettlement in Missoula planned

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Soft Landing Missoula Works to Reopen Resettlement Agency in Missoula Soft Landing Missoula Works to Reopen Resettlement Agency in Missoula

The refugee resettlement controversy in Ravalli County and other parts of Montana has resulted in some people receiving death threats in Missoula.

Supporters of Soft Landing Missoula's efforts to find local homes for Syrian refugees are rallying together and plan to hit the streets later this week downtown. 

"The march is about growing anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiment, but it's also about who we are as a community, um, who Missoula is. We're a place of welcome and inclusion, and we know that we're at our best when we're motivated by values such as love, compassion, opportunity for others, so that's what the march is about," Soft Landing Missoula member Mary Poole said.

The International Rescue Committee came to Missoula in November of 2015 to determine the city's ability to accept refugees. The IRC has said that Missoula could sustain around 100 refugees a year.  They have submitted an application to the state department to bring a resettlement agency to Missoula. 

Local officials showing support for Soft Landing's efforts have received death threats from outraged Montanans. Soft Landing's March 1 event is in response to this anti-refugee sentiment.  The march kicks off at 5 p.m. on Tuesday

"We're gonna start at the top of Higgins near the X's and we'll walk down Higgins 'til we get to Caras Park, and there'll be a short rally with some speakers, the mayor will be speaking, among others, and then we're gonna take a really large group photo at the end to kind of document the support," Poole said.

The Missoula County Democratic Party Executive Board issued a statement in response to the death threats saying that our country's democratic values are called into question when violence is threatened against anyone because of their views on public issues.

Below is the full text of the statement:

The Missoula County Democratic Central Committee strongly applauds the three Missoula County Commissioners, Mayor Engen, and members of the Missoula  City Council for supporting refugee settlement in Missoula for a few of the hundreds of thousands who are fleeing unspeakable atrocities in the Middle East.

Their spirit of compassion and hospitality reflects the view of the overwhelming majority of Missoula County residents and represents America and Montana at its best.

We commend them for their firm stand and urge them to continue to stand tall and  not be discouraged by a few who would cruelly turn their back on enormous human suffering.

Klaus Von Sutterheim, a member of the Missoula County Democratic Central Committee is the author of  this statement and is alarmed by the actions that have taken place recently in regards to the refugee  situation.  Klaus grew up in Nazi Germany and is very familiar with the hateful tactics undertaken by some members of our community.  This reminder asks us to remember history, as if we don’t we are bound to repeat it.

Soft Landing Missoula is also working to reopen Missoula's resettlement agency office that brought Vietnamese Hmong refugees into the area following the Vietnam War. That office was closed in 2008.

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