White supremacist N. Britton, 75

Pastor was heir apparent to bankrupt Aryan Nations racist group

San Jose Mercury News/August 21, 2001
By Ben Fox

San Diego -- Neuman Britton, the pastor of a small white-supremacist congregation and the heir apparent to the bankrupt Aryan Nations racist organization, has died of cancer. He was 75.

Mr. Britton died Saturday at a San Diego veterans hospital, according to his supporters and to organizations that track activities of racist groups. The longtime white-supremacist leader and former member of the American Nazi Party was known to be suffering from melanoma for several years, although he had continued to hold small gatherings and church services at his family's six-acre, hillside compound in Escondido.

"His loss is a significant blow to the white-supremacy world because he was one of the last of the old-time fiery orators," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino. A white-supremacist official said he expected the movement would attract younger followers to replace Britton, however.

Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler named Mr. Britton as his successor in 1998, but because of his illness, few observers expected him to take over the organization, said Joe Roy, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.

"To those of us who monitor this, it was a big surprise . . . Richard Butler did not choose someone who is younger," Levin said. The Aryan Nations was forced into bankruptcy last year when it lost a $6.3 million civil rights lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of two people who were assaulted by security guards at the group's headquarters near Hayden Lake, Idaho.

Mr. Britton was part of the so-called Christian Identity Movement, whose adherents believe white people are the lost tribe of Israel, that Jews are descendants of Satan and that non-whites were created by the devil out of mud and are akin to animals.

He held church services at the family's hilltop compound, where visitors would be greeted by skinheads in Aryan Nations T-shirts or by children playing in the yard. The site doubled as a day-care center run by his daughter.

An Aryan Nations Web site said Mr. Britton died "surrounded by his children and grandchildren," but details about his personal life weren't immediately available. Family members declined requests for interviews.

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