- The Magazine
A Montana man was cited by police for disorderly conduct after video was made public of him harassing and using anti-gay slurs against one of his neighbors because of a dispute over political flags.
Michael Challans, 43, was cited by Helena police for using “loud, profane, and offensive language” as part of an ongoing dispute with 36-year-old Tim Mielke, who is gay.
Video footage from a doorbell security camera that was later posted online to Reddit shows two men standing across the street from Mielke’s house, when one of the men — believed to be Challans — begins yelling at Mielke for a hanging up a flag on his property reading: “Trump Lost: LOL.”
“When are you gonna take your faggot-ass flag down?” Chaellens asks.
“When you take yours down,” Mielke responds, referring to a number of pro-Trump signs still hanging outside various homes.
“Fucking queer. You’re in the wrong neighborhood,” Challans responds. “How about you go over to a fucking Biden neighborhood?”
Mielke says: “You’re entitled yo your opinion.”
“Of course someone like you would say that,” Challans replies. “That’s what all you fucking fags say.”
Challans then demands to know the point of Mielke’s anti-Trump flag, calling Trump a “real American” and asking: “What are you? What do you stand for?”
Mielke then tells Challans to “enjoy your evening” before entering his house. The video ends with Challans calling Mielke a “fucking pussy.”
After Mielke posted video footage from the doorbell security camera online, a friend of Mielke’s who is an authority contacted Helena police, who cited Challans for a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
But Challans says it’s Mielke’s fault for provoking the fight by posting the “Trump Lost: LOL” flag — even though he has several pro-Trump and anti-Biden flags containing vulgarities, as does Kevin Morley, Mielke’s next-door neighbor, who is the other man seen in the video.
“He is going to fly that flag and he expects no one will say anything to him?” Challans told the Helena-based newspaper Independent Record. “[Mielke]’s just antagonizing people to say something to him and then he calls a cop. He causes problems.”
Challans called the idea that he was cited for disorderly conduct “retarded,” telling the newspaper his that he wasn’t yelling, and that his words should be protected by free speech.
“I was in my own yard, and behind my fence. How could anyone get in any trouble for that?” he asked.
Challans also said he did not know Mielke’s sexual orientation when he made the comments, insisting he has “no problems with gay people.”
Mielke said he hung the anti-Trump flag to show a different point of views after several of his neighbors kept their pro-Trump signs and flags up in the yards well after Biden won the election.
“I just was sick of the entire neighborhood looking like it was for Trump,” he said. “I wanted to let people know other views existed.”
Kevin Hamm, of the LGBTQ organization Big Sky Pride, told the Independent Record that the language used in the video is disturbing, and should remind LGBTQ people that just because Trump is out of office doesn’t mean potential threats against them have subsided. For instance, he noted, Montana’s hate crimes statutes do not include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We are dealing with a coordinated attack as to who we are as people,” Hamm said. “It’s tough to live in a world like that.”
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