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Riverton chamber declares ‘hate-free zone’ • Tuesday March 25, 2003

AP, Mar. 24, 2003

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) – The Riverton Chamber of Commerce has declared the city a ”hate-free zone” in response to a white supremacist organization that moved its world headquarters there three months ago.

Posters to be placed in the windows of local businesses were developed by chamber officials at the request of the group’s board of directors. They feature the word ”hate” in black print surrounded by a red circle with a line running through it.

The words ”Hate Free Zone” are printed below the circle.

The posters are ”not intended to pick on or discriminate against any group or individual,” executive director Tim Thorson said. ”Folks can use them as they choose.”

Thorson said the community has suffered from negative publicity since the World Church of the Creator transferred its headquarters in early December from Illinois to the Riverton home of Thomas Kroenke.

No incidents have been reported. But the group’s leader, Matt Hale, was arrested in Chicago for allegedly arranging a attempt to kill a federal judge, and Kroenke has filed complaints against several local businesses he claims have discriminated against him for his affiliation.

”There’s no question that the press we’ve received on a national level hurt our community,” Thorson said.

The posters were designed for local chamber members, but Thorson said more will be made if the demand is there. Similar anti-hate campaigns have been reported in neighboring communities.

”We’re sensitive that not all of our members and constituents think that publicity or any action relating to opposing hate is an appropriate role for the chamber,” Thorson said. ”However, the vast majority of our members, and certainly our board, feel that this is an important issue for the whole community.”

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