Members of white separatist and supremacist groups gathering this month in Kootenai County for their annual congress will be met by sheriff's deputies with the same show of force as last year. But there will be no response from human rights groups.
Richard Butler, head of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations, said Thursday that 300 members of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Posse Comitatus and National Socialists will assemble at his compound near Garwood the weekend of July 15.Butler said the congress will focus on what he termed the "right of self-determination to establish a national state for whites." Butler and others were acquitted in Arkansas earlier this year on federal sedition charges.
He said members this year will discuss a strategy to gain political power. The first step is to get followers of the Aryan Nations philosophy elected to city councils, county commissions and other local political positions.
Members could then use that power base, Butler said, as a platform to reach for higher office.
Unlike the past two years, however, the Aryan congress will not be met with a counter gathering in Coeur d'Alene by members of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment and the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.
"Because somebody chooses to take a three-day stroll down hate street, we don't feel we have to respond to that," said Norman Gissell, Coeur d'Alene attorney and chairman of the task force.
Gissell said his group's objectives of exposing the "bankruptcy" of the Aryan philosophy and showing others that North Idaho is not overrun by white supremacists have been met. He said the task force will focus its annual gathering on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in January.
Capt. John Smith, Kootenai County sheriff's office said that unless stopped by a court order his office will post a surveillance team outside Butler's compound to keep an eye on who comes and goes during the weekend.
Smith said deputies also will watch for counter-demonstrators.