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Demolition Clears Symbols of Hate

AP, May 24, 2001
http://news.excite.com/ Off-site Link


HAYDEN LAKE, Idaho (AP) - With the crunch of splintering timbers, a watchtower that for years stood guard over the Aryan Nations headquarters came tumbling down, to the delight of human-rights activists who now own the compound.

An excavator was brought in Wednesday to destroy symbols of racism and hate on the former neo-Nazi site, forfeited after a lawsuit bankrupted Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler.

Where skinheads and uniformed Nazi wannabes once goose-stepped around Butler's property in the woods of northern Idaho, the new owners are planning a human-rights retreat or a children's camp devoted to diversity.

Butler, now 83 and in poor health, still lives in the area, in a home donated by a wealthy supporter. His following, which over the years included some of the nation's most violent racists and anti-Semites, has dwindled to a dozen or so people. The Aryan Nations still maintains a phone number, though nobody returned three messages left this week.

The Kootenai County Task Force on Human RelationsOff-site Link was formed in 1980 and has battled the Aryan Nations ever since, staging counterdemonstrations whenever Butler held rallies or parades.

The duel effectively came to an end in 1998, when Aryan Nations security guards chased a car they thought had fired a gun at them. (It turned out to be a backfire or firecracker.)

The guards fired repeatedly at the car, shooting out a tire and forcing it into a ditch. One of them grabbed the driver, local resident Victoria Keenan, jabbed her ribs with a rifle butt and put a gun to her head.

Keenan and her son, Jason, sued Butler and last year won a $6.3 million judgment. They gained possession of the 20-acre compound and its nine buildings after Butler filed for bankruptcy protection, and in March they sold it for $250,000 to the Carr Foundation, a human-rights group based in Cambridge, Mass.

The foundation is headed by Greg Carr, an Idaho native and former chairman of the Internet company Prodigy Inc. In addition to his plans for the Aryan Nations site, he wants to build a human-rights center 10 miles down the road in Coeur d'Alene - all in the name of erasing Idaho's image as a haven for racists.

hate groups, white supremacy, aryan nations, richard butler, morris dees, splc, southern poverty law center, victoria keenan, jason keenan, greg carr