Idaho hate groups
tony at SPAMtao.ca
Thu Mar 8 12:23:57 MST 2001
Hunter Gray wrote:
> For a number of years, there has been very justifiable media and other
> public focus on the pervasively violent Nazi-type hate groups [Aryan
> Nations, Identity "church" ] clustered in their camps and compounds in
> North Idaho -- Hayden Lake setting, etc.
I've experienced these Idaho neo-nazi's first-hand (there is an account
from 1998 of a trip some of us from Vancouver went on to protest against
the Aryan Nations and the Klan in Couer d'Alene, Idaho posted on the web
at http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/psn/aug98/0024.html - together with some
comradely debate with another organization on the question of organizing
against the nazis).
There is a good story in today's edition of the Spokesman-Review newspaper
from Spokane, Washington (see http://www.spokesmanreview.com) that gives
us some good news, tho -- now that Richard Butler's Couer d'Alene based
Aryan Nations is bankrupt, his former compound has been converted to a
human rights center.
News doesn't get much better than this :-)
Vancouver, BC (Canada)
Spokesman-Review, Thursday, March 8, 2001
Compound to be center of tolerance
Kempthorne cites Idaho gains in recognizing human rights
Betsy Z. Russell - Staff writer
Coeur d'Alene _ The planned conversion of the former Aryan Nations
compound into a human rights center was lauded Wednesday by Gov. Dirk
Kempthorne, who said the state is making real strides on human rights and
The Carr Foundation confirmed that it will turn the Aryans' former home
near Hayden Lake into a low-key education center.
There, local business groups, college classes and others could explore the
history of civil rights, Nazism, hate and tolerance. Neo-Nazi
paraphernalia from the defunct hate group will be displayed in a museum
located in the structure that the Rev. Richard Butler used as church,
where he preached white supremacy.
Other buildings on the 20-acre site will be demolished, and replaced with
a human rights classroom that features a history of civil rights in
"The days of the Aryan Nations using this facility as a national
headquarters for promoting religious and race-based hatred and violence
are over," said Greg Carr, the Idaho native and former Prodigy Inc.
chairman who purchased the site through his foundation this week.
"The property's future is to serve as a reminder that justice prevails
when it comes to human rights."
Kempthorne used Carr's announcement to also tout Idaho becoming the first
state in the West to recognize an African American holiday marking the
emancipation of American slaves. The governor was joined at a Boise news
conference by supporters who have worked two years to win recognition of
Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Idaho.
"Idaho is a beautiful, peaceful place," Kempthorne said. "We welcome
diversity, and refuse to allow the beliefs and insensitivity of a few
individuals to tarnish our reputation."
Butler's Aryan Nations went out of business last year when a North Idaho
jury awarded a $6.3 million judgment to a mother and son who were attacked
by the group's armed guards. In a bankruptcy sale last month, Butler lost
the compound where he preached hate for more than two decades.
Kempthorne said the transformation of the site joins the newly recognized
June 19 holiday as signs that Idaho is moving forward on promoting
tolerance -- despite insensitive racial comments about African Americans,
Hispanics, Jews and American Indians made by several Idaho political
leaders in recent weeks.
"We know that we have challenges," Kempthorne said. "But each of these
elements are building blocks as we put together a very strong foundation
celebrating the human spirit and the rights of people -- all people."
The Juneteenth National Freedom Day resolution passed both houses of the
Legislature unanimously, Kempthorne noted. It recognizes the June 19 date
that official word of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the
Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, finally freeing the last African
American slaves more than two years after Lincoln first signed the
proclamation. The resolution merely designates and recognizes the holiday;
it doesn't close government offices that day. Juneteenth is typically
celebrated by African Americans with family picnics and gatherings.
Tony Stewart, a founding board member of the Kootenai County Task Force on
Human Relations, said the transformation of the notorious Hayden Lake site
and the recognition of Juneteenth are "two positive steps."
"This is a good day for Idaho and human rights. We have different kinds of
days, but this is a good day," Stewart said.
Stewart was picked by Carr to head a local committee that will oversee and
administer the new 20-acre human rights center.
"We're still in the planning stages," Stewart said, but many of the
details about the new center will be settled in time to announce at a
human rights fund-raising banquet in Coeur d'Alene on April 6.
Carr said, "It is in a remote location, so it isn't going to be some sort
of place that's open all the time with people coming and going. It's going
to be a center that is used by special appointment or invitation."
Displaying the former Aryan Nations' Nazi paraphernalia will help back up
the center's message, Carr said.
"I think it's important to recognize that this kind of philosophy, this
kind of hate, still exists. Sad as it is, we must admit that, and we must
fight against this."
Carr said he first got the idea for the education center from Coeur
d'Alene Mayor Steve Judy.
Judy could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Carr's $250,000 purchase of the site was just his latest contribution to
human rights in Idaho. He's also funding a five-year human rights campaign
by the Association of Idaho Cities, backing the Idaho Anne Frank Human
Rights Memorial in Boise, and supporting other efforts. Last year, Carr's
foundation endowed a major center for human rights policy at Harvard
University's Kennedy School of Government.
*Betsy Z. Russell can be reached at (208) 336-2854 or by e-mail at
bzrussell at rmci.net.
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