Fliers left on doorsteps in some neighborhoods have come to the attention of the Missoula Police Department, though no official reports had been taken by Wednesday afternoon.
The fliers picture three heavily tattooed men of apparent Hispanic descent below an image of a fortified wall and the words “Why is the Israel border wall ‘moral’.” In small font below the image, the flier includes the numbers of Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines.
“We have been notified by one person who lives on the west end of town who found one left on their doorstep,” said Sgt. Travis Welsh of the Missoula Police Department. “We were alerted because the person who called thought it was a hate crime, which I don’t believe it qualifies.”
Welsh said that while the flier depicts three non-Caucasian men, it doesn’t appear to target minorities in an overtly threatening way. Rather, it attempts to make some sort of statement regarding a wall, though its meaning isn’t clear.
The U.S. government has been shut down for 26 days due to the debate over a wall on the southern border. The flier, however, mentions Israel, not the southern border.
“We’ll continue to monitor it,” Welsh said. “If we start getting reports or people complaining that they’re coming on their property and depositing these things, we’d try to follow any leads to identify who might be responsible, not so much for the content of the flier, but for the affront that it causes and them going onto property where they’re not necessary invited.”
Images of the fliers began circulating on Twitter early Wednesday. One reader said the fliers had been left under rocks on the doorsteps of homes in the South Hills and Miller Creek.
The same reader said doorbell video may have captured images of the individual, who apparently left the fliers “in the middle of the night.”
Welsh said there’s little law enforcement can do without an official complaint.
“We’ve also heard these things have been distributed in neighborhoods around town,” Welsh said. “Nobody has called wanting to make a report of it.”
In December 2016, hate-filled leaflets with Nazi propaganda began appearing at area homes, including at those of members of Har Shalom, a Jewish synagogue in Missoula. That prompted widespread community outcry and at least one public meeting involving local officials.
The man behind that distribution was later caught.
“We’ve had other ones in the past that have raised more of a concern,” Welsh aid. “We had some white supremacist ones that caused us some concerns. There hasn’t been a great outcry on these new ones. We haven’t taken a report.”