Aryan group plans civic service

Help for needy set aside for whites only

San Diego Union-Tribune/March 14, 1999

Riverside -- Billing itself as a civic pride organization, a white separatist group has launched a campaign to help overburdened mothers, the disabled and shut-ins.

Just one catch: Only whites are eligible for aid.

"We do not discriminate," said Eric Owens, leader of the Los Angeles-based Aryan International Movement, or AIM. "We will help all whites."

The service will be provided to whites of all genders, ages and religions, including Jews who have white skin, he said.

The group, which circulated fliers Tuesday addressed "Dear white neighbors and friends" on car windshields around Riverside, is planning to expand its operation to other communities, he said.

Under the program, a neighborhood Aryan visits interested "qualified" residents once a week to pick up a shopping list and money, then returns later in the day with groceries, change and a receipt.

"Our plan is to become a common staple in the (Riverside) community and others," he said.

The group also will pass out fliers in San Diego and Long Beach, with other cities to follow, he added.

AIM, which formed in September, has a total membership of about 80 in Southern California, including at least 10 each in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, Owens said.

But officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which monitors hate groups nationally, said Owens is likely exaggerating the size of his group and derided the civic service offer as just a recruitment tactic.

"The fact is that a number of white supremacist groups have tried to position themselves as white pride civic groups," said Mark Potok, editor of the center's quarterly journal. "It makes them look like a good-guy group, like they are just another Kiwanis Club."

He said such efforts usually fail because communities are mistrustful of separatists.

In the ethnically mixed, 74-home Colony Heights Historic Neighborhood Association, where AIM circulated some fliers, some residents expressed fear and skepticism over the group's motives.

"Most people I spoke with thought like I do: 'If we just ignore them, they will go away,' " said Dave McNiel, president of the neighborhood association.

Police said a city ordinance that bans posting fliers on car windshields will be enforced if the group becomes a nuisance.

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