A man who was at Bozeman, Montana’s Pride Stroll this past weekend was hit and then pepper-sprayed by white supremacists who came to counterprotest the event.
A group of about 20 white supremacists wearing masks and sunglasses to shield their identities marched in Bozeman on Saturday, May 20 to show their opposition to the city’s Pride festivities. They carried signs that read “Pedophiles not welcome,” “Tra***es kill kids,” and “White lives matter” and chanted anti-LGBTQ+ statements.
According to Montana Right Now, they were handing out flyers to bystanders. One person who got one of those flyers – Joseph Wood – got into a verbal argument with one of the white supremacists.
And that’s when the white supremacists turned violent. One of them had a shield that he used to hit Wood in the head, and another pepper-sprayed Wood right in his eyes.
“He checked me with the shield, and then they, like, reached around and this dude, this dude with, like, he literally, hand comes from here point blank in my left eye,” Wood said. “The most painful part was that I could feel it, like in going into the eye, not just like spicy on top.”
EMTs treated him and he made a statement to police, according to local news coverage. The white supremacists dispersed after the attack.
Pride co-organizer Alotta Shadow told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that they continued the Pride festivities as planned.
“I think it’s ridiculous to have people’s safety put at risk simply for being themselves,” Shadow said. “It’s unfortunate, it’s a reality. But we’re queer, we’re here, we’re not going away, and we will not be silenced. And we’ll be here for the rest of eternity”
The white supremacists had a few other interactions with Pride-goers earlier in the day. One video posted to social media by Bozeman Daily Chronicle reporter Nora Shelly shows people chanting “We’re here, we’re queer” to drown out the hateful messages.
Another video shows people dancing to Gloria Gaynor in front of the white supremacists.
“We will not be intimidated by hatred here in Montana,” state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) tweeted. “Pride is our sanctuary. Pride is our protest. Pride is our continuous source of joy. And we will not let hatred take that joy away. We will dance, sing, and celebrate in defiance of the hatred that demands our silence.”