The white supremacist who was paid $700 to speak to the Ogden Police during secret sessions last week said he found an "enthusiastic" crowd.
But Ogden Police Chief Joe Ritchie says the "enthusiasm" was only an interest in understanding the doctrine that motivates supremacists.And the leader of a local human rights group said that Ritchie made a mistake by inviting Richard Masker, especially in light of the fact that Masker felt his message was accepted by police officers.
"Our greatest fear is that by choice or by change this may have turned into a recruitment," said Nonie Gilbert, a resident of Davis County and co-chair of a group called "aryanWatch." She said the 50-member organization is working against efforts by white supremacists to establish a foothold in Weber and Davis Counties, and said similar anti-Aryan groups are active in Salt Lake and Utah counties.
"I am offended. I was in shock when I got the first phone call. I think this secrecy thing scares me to death. Using public money was probably wildly inappropriate. Actually to pay to have a presence that this state has so unanimously and solidly said we don't want to come and visit, I certainly wouldn't do it and if I were Chief Ritchie I would have kept it a secret, too. I would be embarrassed to death."
In a telephone interview from Church of Jesus Christ, Christian, Church headquarters in Hayden Lake, Idaho, Masker said that he felt that a lot of the police officers knew he was "telling the truth."
"You know when you are talking to 125 police officers totally programmed by the system," Masker said. "But the vast majority of the presentations were received with what appeared to be enthusiasm. There was a lot of officers that knew I was telling them the truth and they were very receptive."
Ritchie said he doesn't agree with Masker's view about what the officers got out of the sessions. He said the sessions were profitable simply because they began to understand why someone like Masker was willing to fight and die for his "radical rhetoric."
"If you're going to win the war, you've got to know your enemy," Ritchie said.
Masker said he told police about his thoughts on what he calls a "marxist-zionist-coalitionist" conspiracy to control the United States. While emphasizing the conspiracy has wrongly allowed the equality of minorities, he said his was not a racist message.
"I talked to the police force basically on underlying causes for the right-wing movement in the country - that there is a shadow government and that people are awakening to a sense of their awful situation. It identifies the conspirators, and I gave a history of their activities and showed their mode of operation."
Masker said he felt well accepted by the police because Ritchie told him if officers didn't like the first session he would stop Masker.
"After the first session he overwhelming endorsed it and said we will continue with the series and would even recommend to the police chief of Spokane that he have me in to conduct a seminar to the Spokane police department," Masker said.
The police were given four identical three-hour sessions on Nov. 8-9. The whereabouts and nature of the meetings were highly guarded. Masker lectured for two hours and then answered questions. Gilbert said she finds it an odd coincidence that Masker lectured during a day that Jews throughout the world remembered "Kristallnacht" or "Crystal Night" when Nazis rampaged against Jews in 1938.
Masker said he has no affiliation with violent groups like "The Order" or Rev. Richard Butler's Aryan Nations. Masker, however, said Butler is a "good friend" but is not part of work to move an Aryan Nations office to Utah. He said he is a political scientist and must remain unbiased and non-prejudicial in his work.
"I'm a conspiratologist. I don't have anything to do with violent right-wing organizations," Masker said. "I have no connection with them whatsoever. I don't even know members of the `The Order.' "
Masker said the invitation to speak came as a result of a meeting with Ritchie during his visit to Coeur d' Alene last December. Since that time, he has communicated often with Masker.
"I think we've become good friends. That is why he invited me down. He wanted me to share with his police officers the conspiratological message that I have."
After losing his city water supervisor job in Corvallis, Ore., in 1983 for mailing Adolf Hitler birthday cards to Jews, Masker moved to Kootenai County and initially stayed at the Aryan Nations Church compound.
Masker now heads what he calls the "International Conspiratological Association" and is a spokesman for the League of Pace Amendment Advocates, a Glendale, Calif., organization that believes the 14th amendment wrongly allowed blacks and and other minorities to become American citizens. The amendment has caused racial strife and revolution in the United States, Masker said.