Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler fresh from acquittal last month on federal sedition charges - is again vowing to open a regional missionary center somewhere in the Salt Lake-Ogden area later this year.
"Everyone here is enthused and ready to work now," Butler told the Deseret News in a telephone interview from his office in Hayden Lake, Idaho. "We still plan to open a center in Utah later this year. It will be in Salt Lake, Ogden or somewhere in that area."But Butler said he is more concerned right now about his group's just-announced plans to buy or build a radio station powerful enough to broadcast his white supremacist views throughout the Northwest. Anti-discrimination groups have already denounced those plans and have vowed to fight him.
"We would like to build our own station somewhere near here, but we're also looking at maybe buying one of two stations that are for sale in Washington," he said.
That would be a step beyond the "Aryan Nations Hour" aired in the Salt Lake area last year over KZZI in West Jordan. That show was pulled by host Dwight McCarthy, who was then Utah head of the Aryan Nations, after only two weeks because of what he said were numerous threats against station employees.
Even though Butler insists that his group will build a center in Utah, state officials have made it clear they do not welcome it. The Legislature and Gov. Norm Bangerter signed a concurrent resolution earlier this year saying they do not welcome any racist group.
When the House passed that resolution, Butler responded angrily that "the Utah Legislature is full of craven cowards and hypocrites who lick the feet of the Jewish Anti-Christ . . . they just do what the Jews tell them."
Many officials have said they felt Butler's plans for Utah were never real, but were designed simply to attract publicity. If they were real, officials hoped Butler would drop them because of his trial for sedition in Fort Smith, Ark., and because McCarthy, the Utah leader of the Aryan Nations, recently left the church after a doctrinal dispute with Butler.
But Butler said plans for the Utah center should be helped by the enthusiasm of followers after the acquittal of him and 13 other white supremacists last month on charges they planned a racial war and the overthrow of the government.
He said the departure of McCarthy did not hurt his plans for Utah, either, and may actually have helped them.
McCarthy announced he was leaving the Aryan Nations just a few weeks before he was arrested and pleaded no contest to a sex solicitation charge in Salt Lake City. "I'm glad he left us before that happened. That helped us. It's one of a lot of things that have gone our way recently," Butler said.
When McCarthy was named the regional head of Aryan Nations, Butler had said McCarthy would be asked to run the regional center in Utah and that it would likely be built near his Salt Lake area home. Butler claims to have several other followers in Salt Lake and Ogden, although he has refused to say exactly how many and who they are.