Organizers of the planned April 22 counterdemonstration against the Rev. Richard Butler's Aryan Youth skinhead conference have been denied use of the North Idaho College campus.
Clarence Haught, dean of vocational education and acting NIC president, said organizers did not follow procedures in requesting permission to stage the event. Officials also were concerned about security problems."This could attract problems," Haught said. "It's being termed an anti-skinhead march, and we don't want to tempt confrontation."
He also said the request, by the Citizens for Nonviolent Action Against Racism, was filed late. The request also said the organizers were working with a campus organization called the Mozambique Support Network, but Haught said that group's adviser was unaware of the affiliation.
Lisa Anderson, one of the gathering's organizers, called the college's decision "blatantly inconsistent" with past decisions. She said on-campus civil rights events ranging from a Martin Luther King Day ceremony to a human rights celebration have taken place with NIC officials' blessing.
"They are definitely picking sides," Anderson said of the college's campus events committee, which rejected the request on Tuesday. "They are choosing for the people of Coeur d'Alene how to go forward with civil rights."
The citizens group had asked for use of the college grounds and the Bonner Room in the Student Union for various panel discussions and gatherings after the march.
Groups from as far away as Seattle and Utah are expected to participate in the march, a seven-mile walk up the U.S. 95 bike path toward the Aryan Nations compound, where Butler plans a conference for racist youths known as "skinheads," named for their close-cropped hair.
Anderson said organizers are looking for another place to hold their meetings, and they have not given up on the college.
Group members have been at odds with other organizations, including the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, as civil rights activists wrestle with the dilemma of dealing with Butler's plans.
On one side are people who believe counterdemonstrations only draw attention to racist groups, giving them the publicity they seek. Others, such as the citizens group, believe if racism is ignored it will be allowed to quietly grow.
At a meeting Wednesday night at NIC, Coeur d'Alene Mayor Ray Stone sided with the Kootenai County Task Force, which plans a variety of low-key demonstrations to show support for civil rights in northern Idaho.