Aryans Plan Gathering This Weekend

Spokane Spokesman-Review/July 13, 2000
By Bill Morlin

The Aryan Nations is carrying its racist message into the new millennium with the annual "Aryan World Congress" this Friday through Sunday at its compound near Hayden Lake.

No parade is scheduled in downtown Coeur d'Alene this year, but those attending the Aryan gathering could stage an impromptu rally Saturday in the city park.

A similar park rally last year turned into an angry confrontation between Aryans and anti-racists. There were a number of fights, but no arrests.

No permit is required for a gathering in the park.

Aryan founder Richard Butler hasn't disclosed a lineup of speakers or other plans for this year's gathering. He has scheduled a news conference Friday.

Butler, 83, wasn't available on Wednesday, but tells his followers on his Web site that "you're not going to want to miss this millennium celebration."

Vincent Bertollini, one of two Sandpoint men who head the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, is scheduled to be among the speakers, according to one Internet newsletter.

Bertollini, who now calls himself an evangelist, invited California racist Alex Curtis to attend the Aryan gathering in North Idaho.

"There may even be a possibility for you to speak along with Louis, others and myself," Bertollini wrote.

That is an apparent reference to Louis Beam, a longtime Butler ally. Beam is a former Texas Ku Klux Klan leader and one-time Aryan Nations ambassador-at-large.

Curtis, who publishes an Internet hate newsletter, declined the invitation.

"We must break away from the mindset of right-wing ideas of organizations and meetings," Curtis responded. He advocates the "lone wolf" approach to promoting racism.

Those who monitor the Aryan Nations say another parade likely wasn't planned this year because the Aryans are attempting to keep a lower profile as they ready for an Aug. 28 trial in Coeur d'Alene.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, representing a North Idaho woman and her son, is suing the Aryan Nations for civil damages.

The woman and her son were shot at, chased and assaulted by Aryan guards a few days before the Aryan World Congress in 1998.

Their suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Last year, the Aryans decided to motorcade to the city park for the rally there after being denied a permit to parade in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

The following week, a federal judge ordered the city of Coeur d'Alene to issue a parade permit.

But by then, most of Butler's followers had left the area and he was only able to muster a couple dozen marchers for his parade, which was blocked and diverted by protesters.

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