The issues that the Riverton Peace Mission (RPM) takes on are not easy. If you read last week’s Sunday article in the Casper Star Tribune about the police shooting in Riverton in 2019 and the article the week before about racism in Riverton, you know what I mean. One shared that reading about Andy Antelope being killed and the police response triggered PTSD for him.
Consider what it’s like to live it every day, and wondering, “Will I be next?” We have marched, sponsored events, circulated petitions, and sought understanding and healing for nearly four years. We see some changes – the police now use body cams, Donahue who pulled the trigger no longer works here nor is certified to be a law enforcement officer In Wyoming, and we have a new Chief of Police. But we yet to have assurance that it won’t happen again and have no commitment by the Riverton City Council to address systemic racism.
Another contentious issue that the Riverton Peace Mission is the need for shelter and wrap around services for the unhoused. The death from hypothermia of Richard Lonebear found in a parking lot on Main Street last November prompted the community to respond, resulting in volunteer efforts for a blanket drive that led RPM in March to host a Summit for Our Unhoused Neighbors for a deep dive. A group now meets weekly led by RPM co-chair Leslie Spoonhunter to discuss next steps. From 2020 to today, 9 people died in Fremont County from hypothermia - 4 away from a residence, 4 just outside of a residence and 1 inside a residence without heat.
Meaningful change will require a continuing commitment. This week RPM was awarded $4,000 by Resist. We got funds for costs for 3 RPM leaders to go to Missouli, Montana for the Small Town Summit next month. RPM is currently at 46% of the 2023 fundraising goal. If you have not had a chance to give yet or to make a monthly pledge, I ask that you do so now. Your support matters.
Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice.