Aryan Nations leaders look to relocate

Bucks County Courier Times/November 18, 2001

Coudersport, Pa. -- Sitting in an edge-of-town eatery, his 2-year-old son Gideon on his lap, August Kreis looks like most any other father who takes his children to McDonald's and plays with them in the park.

But at his home just outside of this rural community near the New York border, Kreis is preparing for a day when he says he and his supporters will establish a "white, Christian republic" and drive Jews, blacks, Asians and others from the United States and Canada.

"When the time comes, the nonwhites are going to be told that now's the time to get out," Kreis said. "They're going to run to their own lands. Those that don't run, that don't want to leave, would rather fight, we're going to fight them and kill them."

Kreis and his beliefs are not new to this Potter County community that once was home to FBI hero Elliott Ness and mystery writer Margaret Sutton, but his plans to relocate the leadership of Aryan Nations to this sparsely populated region have brought anger and worry from some.

"I don't have time for someone who's bigoted and prejudiced," said Marion K. Peet, a member of the Coudersport Borough Council. "I know that there's a lot of animosity between August and some people around town, but most wish he would just go away."

While he is well known among residents, few will talk publicly about Kreis or the Aryan Nations, afraid, they say, of reprisals.

A longtime member of so-called Christian Identity movements, including the Ku Klux Klan and the Sheriff's Posse Comitatus, Kreis was chosen to design the Aryan Nations' Internet site and quickly rose to prominence.

Now as the designated "minister of information and propaganda," the 46-year-old Kreis plans to use his 10 acres to help relocate the group from Idaho, where its 20-acre compound was lost last year following a $6.3 million civil rights judgment against Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler.

"Where Posse Comitatus and the Klan are an American thing, Aryan Nations is international," Kreis said. "What better forum could I use to express our viewpoint and get the 'Identity' viewpoint out to the people?"

Aryans national director Harold Ray Redfeairn of Dayton, Ohio, is expected to join Kreis in Potter County in the spring, and an Aryan Youth Congress is scheduled there for April 20 - the anniversary of Adolph Hitler's birthday.

While the 83-year-old Butler remains the group's "spiritual leader" from his home in Idaho, Kreis and Butler's named successor Redfeairn hope to use the Pennsylvania land as a base to rebuild the Aryan Nations into a national and international force for white supremacy.

Morris Dees, chief counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, doesn't expect much success for the group, which over the years included some of the nation's most violent racists and anti-Semites.

"There's nothing left of them," Dees said. "They went to Pennsylvania because they've got nowhere else to go. This particular group is on its dying gasp."

Kreis moved to the mostly white county in 1993 and quickly made a name for himself, recruiting local teen-agers and hosting a concert for racist rock bands.

"They prey on the weak," said neighbor Ed Burnside, a teacher at Northern Potter High School. "They target the kids who are in trouble, or who struggle to fit in."

A former New Jersey apartment manager who lost his job for holding Klan rallies on the property, Kreis now supports his wife and five young children with a federal Supplemental Security Income check, an irony he enjoys.

"The government has demonized us, and the Jews also, to the point that if we find a job they make sure that we lose the job," Kreis said. "The government is paying my wages, now, to wage our war on the government. And if they took it away, I'd have to become Robin Hood, and anybody's fair game."

Sgt. Frank Mickle, commander of the state police barracks at Coudersport, said residents call occasionally with concerns but said he did not know of any specific threats made against individuals.

"He pretty much knows where the line is, and he pretty much stays within the boundaries of what he can legally do and say," Mickle said.

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