Montana Politics

Helena Mayor Jim Smith Sided with Group Planning Massive Alt-Right Rallies After Charlottesville Violence

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This image may send shockwaves through Montana’s Capital City.

Current Helena Mayor Jim Smith was caught siding with one of the groups that was planning and organizing mass rallies directly after the Charlottesville white supremacist rally that led to the death of one peaceful counter-protester at the hands of a neo-nazi, while 19 other individuals were injured.

The really frightening part of this is who posted the image, Tim Ravndal.

Ravndal posted this image and quote to Facebook: LINK to Image on Facebook

“Mayor of Helena Jim Smith attended the ACT presentation on American Security in Helena and promises he will not sign off on welcoming refugees to Helena like Missoula did.”

Here is a Screenshot of the post just in case it goes missing:

Ravndal posted this image on Facebook and is a current member of ACT for America, a group that was recently linked to coordinating with what some called neo-nazi groups to hold 67 Rallies across the U.S. but were later canceled due to public outcry.

Ravndal is a disgraced former leader of the Montana Tea Party who was forced to resign because of a post that seemed to suggest violence against the LGBTQ+ community. If someone is forced to resign from the Tea Party, then you know they are doing something very wrong.

ACT for America are extremists of the most dangerous sort, the violence we saw in Charlottesville was not only predictable from these sorts of people, but foreseeable as the Helena IR reported:

“The president of the Big Sky Tea Party Association has been removed from his position and booted from the party after coming under fire for a post he made on his Facebook profile that implied he condones violence against homosexuals.

Tim Ravndal was removed as president of the local chapter Sunday after the group’s board of directors learned of his volatile post on the online social networking site.” From the Helena Independent Record Sept. 7th 2010

Within the comments of Ravndal’s post are ramblings of Islamophobia and slurs. He also goes on to say he’ll light a match to Missoula too. Whatever that means?!?

That is what makes it even more disturbing that Helena Mayor Jim Smith would side with Ravndal and this organization and their blatant hatred against those that they disagree with. Helena and its people deserve better than a man who sympathizes with white supremacists.

Jim Smith has made a lot of mistakes as Mayor of Helena

  1. Not budgeting correctly to plow the snow and ice from the dangerous roads of Helena in winter. This led the sheriff’s office to call a state of emergency on February 10th, 2017. Schools were closed and multiple accidents occurred.
  2. In 2015 Smith did not support the removal of the Confederate Monument (he has since bowed to public           pressure.) He said a descriptive sign would suffice but never paid for one to be made.
  3. Smith continually underfunds essential services in the city of Helena like firefighting and road maintenance. The Helena firefighters have been below adequate staff levels for years, which led the Helena Firefighters IAFF Local 448 to endorse Smith’s opponent in the 2017 Mayoral race.
  4. Smith supports Tim Ravndal and ACT for America in their blatantly bigoted ideas and actions.

The people of Helena are hard working Montana’s. They want a city that is properly run with essential services funded and equal rights for everyone. Helena doesn’t need a good ol’ boy politician who panders to white supremacists.

It’s time to look for new leadership in Montana’s Capital City.

About the author

Nathan Kosted

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  • I don’t disagree that Mayor Jim Smith may have outlived his leadership capability for Helena’s future, but attacks like this are not going to win my support. He’s been a good Mayor and deserves respect and discussions/debates of the issues, not attacks like this. There’s no way Jim supports white supremists. Find out a little more about why he was at that meeting. If Mr. Collins supported this post, he loses my respect. It’s ok not to agree him but to misrepresent him is not acceptable.

    The whole commission is responsible for whatever failures you perceive in city services, the Mayor doesn’t not unilaterally make things happen or not. In my opinion, this is the worst possible way to build support for Mr. Collins.

  • September 16, 2017

    I reject violent extremism in all its hideous forms and behaviors, be it the alt-right, the alt-left or any-alt in between. No matter if it’s foreign or domestic; homegrown or imported from any of the nearly 200 other nation states in the world today; whether it’s religious or secular in nature, I reject violent extremism.

    A friend of mine invited me to the ACT meeting. The speaker that night was retired Los Angeles Police Officer who worked the streets and had some experience and understanding of how gang members become radicalized in prison. Here again, it matters not to me whether someone is being radicalized in a prison, on the internet, or at a southern baptist church, a mosque or the cathedral of St. Helena—I’m worried about it and want to better understand it in order to combat it. I suppose the sad truth is that bigotry, racism and eventually radicalization begins most often in our own homes, when children hear adults badmouthing Native Americans, or Blacks, or Muslims, or Women, or whoever. The seeds of radicalization are sewn early with, casual remarks, off color jokes, cruel statements or ‘locker room talk.’

    As your mayor I bear some responsibility for the safety of the good people in this fine city. My moral obligation is to the people of Helena, and their physical safety is paramount in my book. I’ve also met with many constituents, individuals, organizations and groups over the years on any number of subjects. I’ve tried to be a good listener. And to give honest feedback. It’s an important part of the job.

    Last Tuesday morning I attended a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda honoring the 2,977 Americans who lost their lives in the attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. The Helena Fire Department (thanks Assistant Chief Ken Woods) organized the event. There were firefighters, police, other first responders and small group of regular citizens on hand that morning.

    It’s been 16 years since 9-11. Perhaps folks have moved on? I have not. Or maybe—after Boston, Orlando, San Bernadino, not to mention Charleston and Charlottsville, not to mention London, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, Nice, Amsterdam and other places abroad—people are numb to the threat of another terrorist attack? I’m not. I’m not paranoid and I don’t live in fear. But we’ve taken reasonable precautions at the City-County Building. The Helena Police Department has been providing enhanced security at the state capitol for the last several years. And a big part of the coming improvements in Helena’s schools and classrooms is additional security measures. I try to stay vigilant, keep the subject in the forefront of my mind, and to be ever mindful of this reality.

  • HA! I was at that memorial at the Capitol. I almost walked out because Smith kept attacking “extremists” who dared stand up to TRUMP.

    I think the current mayor of Helena is squarely in allegiance with President Trump….

    ….on more issues than just his radical anti-refugee stand.

  • I’ve known Mayor Jim Smith as a friend since the early 70s and know that he is not a racist. While I have not always agreed with his actions or views, I know he is a good person, and I admire him … but I am proudly supporting progressive candidate Wilmot Collins in the November 7th Helena city election.

    Jim Smith recently voted to dismantle the Confederate memorial, and I talked to him for a long time that evening, thanking him, right after that vote, telling him in person that I think he is a good person and that I admire him… I am proudly supporting progressive candidate Wilmot Collins in the November 7th Helena city election.

    I posted the following Helena IR LTE by Nanette Gilbertson on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Francis.Kromkowski/posts/2107897795903014): “Attacks on Mayor Jim Smith are Preposterous (Jim Smith on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jimedwardsmith)”:

    <<<>>>> — http://helenair.com/opinion/letters/attacks-on-mayor-are-preposterous/article_0c410c39-d74d-535d-a4b6-7a160baed18d.html

    And I posted the following comment in the IR comments section related to Gilbertson’s letter:
    “I’ve known Mayor Jim Smith as a friend since the early 70s. Of course, Jim Smith is not a racist. While I have not always agreed with his actions or views, I know he is a good person and I admire him.” http://helenair.com/opinion/letters/attacks-on-mayor-are-preposterous/article_0c410c39-d74d-535d-a4b6-7a160baed18d.html

    After I posted Gilbertson’s Helena IR LTE on Facebook, I then wrote on Facebook 9/25/17 11:00 am:

    <<<>>>

  • There is so much wrong with this article that it’s difficult to know where to begin. And it would not matter–it’s already almost a month old–except that in today’s Independent Record Joshua Manning used it as a source, quoting much of it without attribution, to revive accusations against candidate Jim Smith, presumably in order to support candidate Wilmot Collins. This post is mean, petty, unjust, divisive, and typical of the dirty tricks we expect from the far right. As I said to Mr. Collins at a recent campaign gathering, with friends like this, you don’t need enemies.

    First, the headline screams. It is sensationalism, yellow journalism, misleading, and partially false. Smith did not “side” with anyone, and the group, ACT, a known hate group, was not planning “massive . . . rallies after the Charlottesville violence.” The event in question happened in March of 2016, long before the events in Charlottesville. And the language throughout is loaded–“shockwaves,” “mass rallies,” “caught,” “white supremacist,” “neo-nazi,” “just in case it goes missing,” “deserves better,” and “sympathizes.”

    Second, the event in question was a public lecture sponsored by the hate group ACT at Jorgenson’s. It was in response to Missoula’s and other Montana communities rallying to support and welcome refugees and immigrants, and it was focussed on the speaker’s and ACT’s perception of Sharia law as a threat to Americans and to United States legal and social traditions. Your segue from Islamophobia to white supremacism rides the coattails of current outrage but belies the focus of the ACT event.

    As a public event, anyone could attend and there are many reasons why someone would choose to do so–“know thy enemy,” having been invited, maybe the cookies on the table were tempting, curiosity, the need to be forewarned about any plans to disrupt civic life in Helena, or, in the case of a specific attendee, to provide a corrective for what the speaker would be presenting. Just because Smith attended one cannot conclude that he is racist, and ACT member, or a sympathizer. Anyone could attend and I know of several who did, each for his or her own reasons. It’s a logical fallacy–guilt by association.

    Because the speaker’s work is available online, just “doing one’s homework” showed that the information he intended to present about Sharia was incomplete and partially incorrect. One attendee did his homework and was there to provide correction to the probably-not-fully-educated-about-Islam audience.

    Third, Kostad’s main, actually only, source for this report is Tim Ravndal. Really? Ravndal was kicked out of the Tea Party! THIS is your source of information you then use to undermine the integrity of a public servant? Really? The photo that you lifted from Ravndal’s post is not even AT Jorgenson’s or at the ACT meeting. It is Smith alongside Commissioner Ed Noonan at the City chambers, thus clearly taken much later than the ACT meeting. Ravndal CLAIMS in his post that Smith made a promise not to welcome refugees to Helena. Really? You think Ravndal tweeting to other hate groupies is a good source for your article? Have you substantiated that Smith made such a promise with other sources? Have you asked him? Have you checked with anyone else who was at the meeting?

    Your only other sources were used to undermine Ravndal’s veracity and integrity. Why would you want to do that to the one source you had for your accusations against Smith?

    Fourth, even your list of four “mistakes” is flawed; it was not Smith, but the entire City Commission who determined that signage would correct the affront of the fountain. It is not Smith, but the entire City Commission who budget city services administered by our City Manager. And there is not a shred of evidence presented that Smith supports Ravndal or ACT.

    As I said in the first paragraph, none of this would matter, because after a few hundred shares and a tiny flurry, it blew over. Until today’s letter from Manning in the IR revived this nasty and false set of claims and innuendo. Your poor reporting and irresponsible “journalism” has misled Manning, and probably a fair number of those 392 shares. And it has impugned the integrity of a good-hearted, long-serving, generally competent public servant. I could not be more disappointed in The Montana Post.

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