HAYDEN, Idaho – A member of a neo-Nazi group who is running for city council was arrested following a confrontation in which a man allegedly was punched after saying he was Mexican, police said.
Aryan Nations member Zachary L. Beck, 24, was arrested Friday by Kootenai County deputies on suspicion of malicious harassment. No bail had been set Saturday for Beck, who was scheduled to appear in court Monday.
The alleged victim, John A. Albright, told police he was in a parking lot outside an Albertsons grocery store when a silver Ford pickup pulled up next to him.
Albright, 20, said two white men wearing dark jackets with Aryan Nations insignia approached him, pointing to a sticker of a Mexican flag on the window of Albright’s vehicle.
One of the men asked if he was Mexican, Albright told police, and when he answered yes the man swung at him, grazing Albright’s chin.
According to a police report, the second man tried to enter Albright’s vehicle as the other warned, “You better watch yourself, we know your car and you better get out of town.”
Authorities identified the truck as Beck’s, and contacted him at the home of Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler, who is running for mayor of Hayden, a northern Idaho town of about 9,000. Beck surrendered and was taken into custody.
Police did not say whether they thought Beck was the man who hit Albright, and it was unclear whether the other man was arrested or cited. The investigation was continuing, authorities said.
“I wasn’t there, I didn’t see it,” Butler said Saturday. “I have no personal knowledge of it; so I have no comment.”
On Tuesday, voters will choose between Mayor Ronald MacIntyre and Butler, who led the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations organization until 2000, when a civil lawsuit forced the confiscation of his rural compound.
Butler has said he doesn’t intend to win, but has used the election as a platform to spread his message.