(h/t: Frank S.)
A one-man protest Monday outside of a mosque in Bozeman, Montana, led to a brief lockdown at a nearby school until police determined the protester wasn’t a threat.
The protester, who was not shy about showing his face but did not want to he identified, showed up at the Islamic Center of Bozeman that morning carrying an American flag with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
“I’m responding to the message of hate that’s being shown here,” he told reporters.
But the gun the protester was carrying prompted a response from the police department. Authorities said the man was compliant and, although he wasn’t breaking any laws by doing so, agreed to put his rifle away.
He continued the protest while carrying an American flag and by the afternoon, a counter-protester, Andy Boyd, could also be found outside of the place of worship. Boyd said he was there to show support for the country’s religious freedom, a right which he said the nation was founded upon.
Then, a little later, a woman who said she was a Muslim, walked out to the snow-covered sidewalk and offered the protester a cup of coffee. The woman said the protester had every right to do what he was doing and there was no reason for them to fear one another. But the woman said she was glad to see the man put the rifle away, citing the close proximity to the school, which she said made people nervous.
The woman said there has been Muslims in the Bozeman area since the 70’s and there has never before been a problem.
“Most of us just want a place to pray in peace,” she said.