White supremacists gather for Aryan World Congress

Spokane Spokesman Review/July 7, 2001
By Bill Morlin

On the site where GIs were trained to fight the Nazis, white supremacists from throughout the United States gathered Friday in North Idaho.

Many of those same racists camping in Farragut State Park are scheduled to march today in Coeur d'Alene with Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler. Sherman Avenue and intersecting side streets will be closed during the parade, set to begin at 11 a.m.

The parade is the featured event of the annual Aryan World Congress, an event Butler has sponsored for a quarter century. It has attracted Ku Klux Klan, Christian Identity and various other racists over the years.

The stubborn 82-year-old racist is holding this year's Aryan World Congress in the state park after losing his former 20-acre compound in a $6.3 million lawsuit.

But Butler is keeping a much lower profile this year. For the first time, he didn't kick off his annual gathering with a news conference and wasn't available to speak with reporters. In years past, he's introduced featured speakers and spouted his racist message.

An estimated three dozen participants had shown up by Friday evening at the Nighthawk campground in Farragut. Head ranger Bryan Rowder said he was told by organizers that about 100 campers were expected.

In the adjoining Kestrel campground, about two dozen law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, monitored the gathering under balmy summer skies Friday afternoon. The arrangement is an intelligence-gathering bonanza for law enforcement officers assigned to track domestic terrorism and racist groups.

Each vehicle and its occupants headed to the Aryan encampment at the Nighthawk site had to pass through a police checkpoint on an access road. At past gatherings, officers have taken video and still pictures in attempts to identify those attending.

Individuals who've attended past Aryan congresses later have gone on crime sprees that created national headlines.

Aryan staff leader Shaun Winkler applied to use the state campground earlier this year. Farragut, on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, was the site of a Naval training base during World War II.

Winkler was issued the permit last month after state park officials concluded there was no legal way to deny it. The Aryans wanted to fire their guns at the firing range at Farragut, but it was rented out to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.

Winkler has said his group will now use a firing range near Fernan Lake, east of Coeur d'Alene, this afternoon. The Aryans also plan to burn a cross after dark tonight in the designated fire pit in their campsite.

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