Few problems expected at Aryan Nations meeting

Idaho Statesman, June 21, 2003

ATHOL — Law enforcement agencies anticipate few problems when the white supremacist organization Aryan Nations holds its annual “world congress” this weekend in a north Idaho state park.

Kootenai County sheriff´s Capt. Ben Wolfinger said law enforcement officers will keep watch at Farragut State Park, but don´t expect any disturbances.

“We´ll keep an eye on things and make sure it doesn´t get out of hand,” he said Friday. “As long as they stay mellow, we shouldn´t have any problems.”

Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler, 85, said he expects 100 to 200 participants at the event, which will feature several speakers and neo-Nazi skinhead rock bands.

The group, which lost its north Idaho headquarters in a civil-rights lawsuit, will meet with other white supremacist groups at the park on Lake Pend Oreille through Sunday. The group had planned to march through downtown Coeur d´Alene, but other groups already had bought permits for parades on the same dates this summer.

The Aryan Nations has hosted the event for the past two decades, but a $6 million civil lawsuit in 2000 by the Southern Poverty Law Center caused the group to lose its 20-acre compound near Hayden Lake. The compound was razed in May 2001. The Aryans´ march in downtown Coeur d´Alene was canceled in 2002 because the group didn´t have enough money to pay a parade fee.

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