One of the nation's leading racists and anti-government activists goes to court Monday in Coeur d'Alene in an attempt to win joint custody of his two young daughters.

The Spokesman-Review/February 3, 2002
By Bill Morlin

Louis R. Beam Jr. -- former Aryan Nations ambassador and Texas Ku Klux Klan leader -- says he should be allowed more time with his daughters, despitehis racial and political views.

His former wife is fighting Beam in court, and filed a counterclaim that says Beam is indoctrinating the girls with racist beliefs. She wants the court to terminate Beam's contact with the children.

Beam filed his legal action in Kootenai County, asking an Idaho court to liberalize a Texas judge's 1997 order ending his 10-year marriage to Sheila Toohey, his fourth wife.

They were married shortly before Beam made the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on charges of plotting to overthrow the U.S. government. He later was acquitted.

Toohey says in court filings that she has never shared Beam's racist and anti-government philosophy, and has a written document from him confirming that.

Beam is the architect of the "leaderless resistance" concept followed by anti-government, racist extremists, including Chevie Kehoe, Buford Furrow and Timothy McVeigh.

Extremist expert Joe Roy of Klanwatch says Beam is among the three most prominent racists in the United States.

Another expert, Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League, said Beam's visibility has diminished since the 1980s and early 1990s, but "he still is certainly well-respected among other white supremacists."

A photo of Beam dressed as Grand Dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is part of the court file in Kootenai County.

In 1997, a Texas judge granted Toohey custody of their daughters, now 10 and 8, who live with their mother in North Idaho.

Beam was awarded only limited visitation by the judge, who said there was "good cause" for the restrictive parenting plan. It allows Beam to have weekend and holiday visits and two weeks each summer with the girls.

Beam says he lives in Texas, but has an Idaho driver's license, using the Coeur d'Alene address of another anti-government activist.

Toohey says in court papers that she's afraid of Beam, and moved from Texas to Idaho in 1999 because he told her that a race war would break out in 2000.

She says Beam warned her that he and his "armed comrades" would come and "forcibly remove the children" if she didn't leave Texas before Y2K, court documents say.

Now, she alleges, her daughters return home from their visits with Beam with racist ideas he has "planted in their heads."

He once gave the children KKK "blood cross" necklaces, Toohey says in court documents. One daughter wanted to wear the necklace to school, not understanding its racist symbolism, Toohey says.

A teacher says in another court document that one of the girls drew swastikas at school in Texas, prior to moving to Idaho.

On another occasion, Toohey claims, Beam told his daughters they couldn't go in a motel swimming pool "because blacks and mud people" had contaminated the water.

During a "history lesson" he gave his daughters, Beam told them Hitler "was not a God, just a great man," Toohey contends in the court documents. He also told his daughters that the United States sent soldiers to Europe in World War II to "kill young Aryan men for money," the documents say. One of her daughters has performed Nazi salutes "as though it is a normal gesture," Toohey claims in court papers.

Her Coeur d'Alene attorney, Kevin Waite, argues that exposing children to racist, anti-government beliefs constitutes neglect under Idaho law.

The custody hearing could be postponed depending on two other custody cases, also scheduled for Monday before the same judge, Scott Wayman. Beam, through his Coeur d'Alene attorney, Suzanna Graham, denies his ex-wife's allegations.

"He has never conducted himself in any manner to cause (Toohey) any fear," Graham says in court documents.

In those filings, Beam accuses his ex-wife of custodial interference, alienation of affection and barring him from contact with his daughters.

He asks that Toohey be prosecuted under the federal Parental Kidnapping Act.

He says he wants access to his daughters' school activities and alleges their mother has threatened to move to another state.

Beam, 55, who has married for a fifth time after his divorce from Toohey, now has twin boys. They are named after two of Beam's Confederate heroes, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee, Toohey's family members say. He has used various aliases, including those of Confederate soldiers Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Singleton Mosby. He also has called himself Billy Bob Blunt.

Beam says in court papers that he has "not spoken publicly since 1996" at Toohey's request.

There is no mention of the eulogy Beam delivered to a crowd of 200 gathered in 1997 at the funeral of North Idaho activist Eva Vail. The funeral concluded with Beam and others giving the Nazi salute to their deceased friend.

Despite his racist ties, Beam argues that his daughters have a right to develop a relationship with his new sons.

"The parties' politics are adult issues and neither party should be discussing them with the children," Beam's court papers say.

They also say that Beam, a Vietnam War veteran, is 100 percent medically disabled and living on payments from the government. Toohey declined to talk about the custody battle.

But her parents, Stan and Dorothy Toohey of Post Falls, expressed anger toward Beam, whom they once regarded as a "polite, Christian man." "In my opinion, he's a dangerous man and shouldn't even be around those little girls," said Stan Toohey, the girls' grandfather.

Beam is a friend of federal drug fugitive Brian Knoff, now believed to be living in Costa Rica, where Beam is a frequent visitor, court documents filed by Toohey's lawyer say.

Beam says he travels to Costa Rica because he can obtain cheaper medical treatment there.

An older daughter from his third marriage is married to Knoff's son, the court documents say.

Beam was arrested in 1983 at the Aryan Nations compound on a charge of kidnapping that daughter from his third ex-wife, Kara Mikels, in Texas. She later dropped the charge, claiming she was afraid of Beam's associates, including members of a terrorist group called The Order.

Beam was a frequent visitor to the Aryan Nations compound in the 1980s and was given the title "Aryan ambassador-at-large." He was known for his eloquent, racist speeches, and was mentioned as a successor to Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler.

At the 1984 Aryan World Congress, Beam taught a guerrilla warfare training course, using a manual that tells how to manufacture napalm, pipe and fire bombs, and grenades.

Also at the Aryan gathering were some of the men who went on to form The Order, later committing murders, bombings and robberies. They dubbed Beam "Lone Star."

That same weekend, seven arson fires broke out along a railroad viaduct in downtown Spokane, causing $5 million in damage. A downtown block was destroyed, and all available firefighters were called out. No one was ever charged in those fires.

Beam later met Sheila Toohey in Texas, and the two married in 1987.

Three weeks after the wedding, Beam and Butler were among 15 racists indicted in Arkansas for plotting to overthrow the U.S. government, in part through actions of The Order.

Beam and his new bride fled to Mexico. By July 1987, he was placed on the FBI's most wanted list, described as "armed and extremely dangerous."

In early November 1987, FBI agents and Mexican police tracked him to Guadalajara, Mexico, where he was arrested and extradited to the United States.

At the seditious conspiracy trial in Fort Smith, Ark., Beam acted as his own attorney, while many of his 14 co-defendants, including Butler, hired lawyers.

Beam told jurors that federal prosecutors were trying to paint him and Butler as "enemies of this government."

"This is the truth," Beam told the jury. "The federal government is my enemy, and by the time this trial is over you will understand that the government is your enemy, too."

All of the defendants, including Beam, were acquitted. Beam walked out of the courtroom, stood next to a Confederate Army statue and vowed to continue his fight against the government, but said he'd do it underground.

He remained largely out of sight, but turned up in North Idaho after Randy Weaver's 10-day standoff with government agents at Ruby Ridge in 1992. Beam spoke at a meeting in Sandpoint of citizens angry about the siege that left Weaver's wife, son, and a deputy U.S. marshal dead.

Beam said FBI agents who killed Vicki Weaver were "like a lion that has tasted the blood of human victims."

In 1993, Beam showed up near Waco, Texas, during the FBI standoff with the Branch Davidians that ended with a fiery siege on April 19.

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