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Bozeman United for Racial Justice organizers announced Saturday they plan to launch three different campaigns targeting three “pillars” of the city — Montana State University, the police department and local businesses.

The group hosted a mass meeting Saturday at Bozeman Pond to gather public support for their initiatives. Around 150 people attended the meeting.

Bozeman United and members of Montana State University’s Black Student Union split attendees up into small groups to explain their campaigns and brainstorm strategies.

The group plans to call on Montana State University to sign a Freedom Pledge. The pledge asks local businesses to commit to adopting anti-racist policies, accepting feedback from BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color), combatting implicit bias through staff trainings and bystander intervention, and supporting work for racial justice in Bozeman.

Members of MSU’s Black Student Union said they feel like the university hasn’t been very receptive to their needs and safety, and they haven’t felt like a priority.

“It feels discriminatory,” said Jess Brito, treasurer for the Black Student Union.

The Black Student Union listed ways MSU could offer support, and asked meeting attendees to write to the university president using a template.

BSU members said they wanted the university to establish more classes and programs dedicated to African American history and promote an Africana Studies class the group created, which will launch this fall.

Members said they also want the university to hire a graduate student to work in the Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons to support African American and African students on campus. In addition, they said they want a space designated for black students on campus to feel safe studying and holding BSU meetings.

Bozeman United invited attendees to participate in a canvassing campaign to influence the city commission to redistribute police funding to social services. Attendees interested in canvassing practiced having conversations with those who oppose the idea of defunding police.

Organizers said they were still exploring options for developing an alternative budget that redistributes police funding to social services, but their main goal is to delay the budget’s timeline.

Organizers also announced they would continue inviting businesses to commit to their Freedom Pledge, and the group is planning to celebrate Juneteenth.

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Helena Dore can be reached at or at 582-2628.

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