BILLINGS — Adria Jawort first encountered the photos of neo-Nazi carvings online. They included swastikas, SS insignia, and other white supremacist language carved into the sandstone at the Four Dances Special Recreation Management Area outside of Billings, as well as several screenshots from social media sites of a man affiliated with a neo-Nazi group taking selfies with the graffiti, allegedly taking responsibility.
When Jawort saw the pictures, she immediately knew where the carvings were and found them for herself in mid-January.
“I hiked up there and went exactly right where I thought it was, and took my own pictures and evidence,” she says. “It was like a sinking feeling. Just because it was just like, they were kind of bigger than I thought they’d be. And they were carved in there pretty deep.”
Jawort detailed what happened in an online Substack post. She says she was in contact with the Bureau of Land Management but says when she followed up with the BLM a month later they told her that the incident did not violate the Archeological Resource Protection Act.
The BLM is actively investigating the vandalism but could not provide further details regarding the investigation.
Other posts of the graffiti Jawort found link it to the Big Sky Active Club, which has organized white power demonstrations in cities across Montana.
She says she doesn't fear the group taking responsibility for the graffiti and will continue to use her voice to speak out against the group.
“Some kind of action has to be done or some kind of law has to be made where people can’t get away with carving swastikas,” she said.
Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick says the department has not been asked to help in the investigation, as the BLM has its own law enforcement jurisdiction. He does say that vandalism like this does occasionally occur in Billings. Recently, flyers with anti-semitic language were distributed around the city, but Lennick says there was little police could do because no laws were broken and the people behind the flyers were exercising their First Amendment right.
“We do have it; it pops up occasionally. It’s not something we see on a regular basis,” Lennick says. “While it is offensive and we wish it didn’t happen in our community, it’s one of those things that’s also protected. As long as they aren’t breaking any other laws we can’t do a lot about it.”