Will Deschamps, Sr., the former chairman of the Republican Party in Montana, is facing a firestorm of criticism after he appeared to suggest that his followers on social media come armed and prepared for confrontation ahead of President Trump's rally in Missoula on Thursday, October 18.
The Washington Post reports that just one day prior to the president's arrival, Deschamps kicked off a couple of posts on Facebook by encouraging citizens not to shy from exercising their rights to bear arms in what is estimated to be a gathering of some 8,000 people. He warned that the opposition has been resorting to violence on far too consistent an occasion, and claimed that they are now showing up to pro-Trump functions with weapons. Those who care to rally in support of President Trump ought to embrace the liberty of knowing they can come ready to respond in kind, argued Deschamps.
"For all the prospective attendees to the Trump event. Come early. Also all you protesters, show up as well. This is a concealed and open carry state and we know how to use em. USMC trained," the former state GOP chair wrote. "Protesters have become more and more brutal. They are in fact, now carrying firearms, hardened gloves and other violent articles with them that can kill, or harm those they disagree with. Apparently, those of us that want peaceful marches, are not allowed to suggest we defend ourselves."
Deschamps later told a reporter who contacted him from the Missoulian that his posts were more specifically geared to characterize and address the reputation that has preceded anti-fascist (ANTIFA), demonstrators.
"Someone is going to get hurt at those protests," the publication quotes him as stating.
Deschamps would go on to contend that he's become aware of members of law enforcement in cities across the nation falling back and allowing tensions to boil over "rather than restore order." He also recalled that during his time in office, it had become commonplace for police to avoid dealing with conflict by requesting that the GOP close its offices on days of planned peaceful protests. Each instance has convinced Deschamps that rather than rely on security, citizens ought to be ready to take matters into their own hands, the posts inferred.
One of the lead organizers of the Love Trumps Hate protest that has been planned to coincide with Thursday's rally has hit back at Deschamps by calling his remarks "irresponsible."
"I think what he is doing is playing directly into the narrative that President Trump is creating, that the left is an angry mob," Newsweek quotes Erin Erickson, the director of Missoula Rises, as saying. "There is no evidence of that in Missoula. I think he's trying to further that narrative without any evidence."