Aryan Nations recruiting again in northern Idaho
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The Aryan Nations has returned to northern Idaho with what it is calling a “world headquarters” and a recruitment campaign.
Coeur d’Alene resident Jerald O’Brien, who has a large swastika tattoo on his scalp, is one of the leaders of the white supremacist group and said he expects membership to grow because of the election of President Barack Obama.
Racist recruiting effort disgusts CdA neighborhood
Many residents of a north Coeur d’Alene subdivision awoke Friday to find racist fliers on their lawns, distributed as recruitment letters by the white supremacist group, the Aryan Nations.
“I saw Aryan Nations and put it in the trash,” said Garvin Jones, who lives in the neighborhood southwest of Atlas Road and Prairie Avenue. “What’s wrong with these people? Give me a break. I bet if you went back in their family history, not one is 100 percent white.”
The Aryan Nations Web site lists Jerald O’Brien and Michael Lombard as the “pastors” who have taken over following longtime leader Richard Butler’s death in September 2004.
The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations — which has fought the Aryan Nations for decades — quickly condemned the flier distribution and offered its services to anyone threatened or harassed.
The Aryan Nations was effectively bankrupted on Sept. 7, 2000, when a Kootenai County jury returned a $6.3 million verdict against the organization, its founder, Richard Butler, and three former members.
The verdict in the civil trial found that Butler and his organization were guilty of gross negligence in appointing security guards who carried out an assault against two people driving by their property.
O’Brien, however, said the “world headquarters” of the organization is now in Coeur d’Alene in a location that is “membership privileged information only.” He did admit that he lives in a home on the east side of downtown Coeur d’Alene that regularly flies two white supremacist flags.
Quoting an older report for some background info:
In a 1999 report, the FBI said the goal of Aryan Nations was to forcibly take five states — Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington and Montana — and form an Aryan homeland.
Butler’s undoing began in 1998, when Aryan Nations security guards chased a car they thought had fired a gun at them. It was apparently a backfire or firecracker.
The guards fired repeatedly at the car, shooting out a tire and forcing it into a ditch. One of them grabbed the driver, local resident Victoria Keenan, jabbed her ribs with a rifle butt and put a gun to her head.
Keenan and her son, Jason, sued Butler, arguing his organization had been negligent in its supervision of the guards. In 2000 they won a $6.3 million judgment. They were aided by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which called Butler the “elder statesman of American hate.”
After the death of its leader, the hate group moved its headquarters to Alabama.
In March 2007, it was reported that FBI and local police were monitoring possible renewed activity by Aryan Nations in Idaho.
Meanwhile, Butler’s old hate compound has been transformed into a peace park.
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