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Missoula man banned from city meetings after threats

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Missoula city council chambers

The entrance to the city of Missoula's city council chambers.

A Missoula man was banned from attending City Council meetings after making threats to "hunt down and eliminate" members of the Missoula City Council in a profanity-laced video he posted to YouTube in December.

Brandon Bryant, who has identified himself as an Air Force veteran, was issued a written notice of trespass this week after council members expressed safety concerns stemming from the video in which Bryant said: 

"The entire Missoula City Council has sold out Missoula to the highest bidder and what's going to happen if the people who wronged everyone don't step aside and put their tails between their legs and run because over the next year, all those people … will be eliminated."

Council President Bryan von Lossberg immediately referred the threats to law enforcement and Mayor John Engen after he was made aware of the video late last week. 

Interim Missoula Police Chief Mike Colyer said Bryant is not allowed to attend public meetings held by the city "indefinitely" while the police department conducts an investigation to determine whether the statements constitute a criminal offense.

Colyer said they are also connecting Bryant with "any resources he might need if he was struggling with personal problems" and are working with him to "solve the problem rather than kicking him out and not following up." Bryant also railed against a former girlfriend in the video.

Colyer said there has been a regular police presence at City Council meetings for about a year, something he said is not related to Bryant. 

Bryant had attended the City Council meetings for several months and often spoke during public comment periods against the city's use of tax-increment financing. 

In a November City Council meeting, Bryant yelled at the mayor and councilors from the podium during public comment. Von Lossberg, who is beginning his seventh year serving on City Council, said the incident was "one of the rare times I've seen the mayor have to recess a meeting."

At another committee meeting in January, Bryant brought a large stick to the podium that he identified as a weapon, which led councilors and city staff to express concerns for safety, von Lossberg said.

Von Lossberg added that he thinks the incident points to a "the polarized environment that we're living in" and the rhetoric that elected officials use at every level of government. 

"With the social media channels we've got available to us, there is a lot of irresponsible rhetoric out there and I firmly believe there's a connection between that kind of reckless extreme rhetoric and situations where inflamed passions can result in dangerous situations," von Lossberg said. 

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