Ogden Police Chief Joe Ritchie says he hasn't let up on gathering information about Idaho's Aryan Nations, even though the white supremacist group has apparently scrapped plans to put a regional headquarters in this northern Utah community.
Ritchie said his department continues to gather information about the Rev. Richard Butler's Hayden Lake movement and monitor the activities of white supremacist groups.Meanwhile, Utah authorities are focusing on other areas of the state where they fear Butler's followers may be active.
Just across the Utah border, in Evanston, Wyo., city officials are fighting to stop an avowed white supremacist from making the town his home.
Also, Wendover Police Chief A. June Carter, Utah's only black police chief, says that his department knows of several white supremacists who have moved into the Wendover area, but, "I'd only be speculating if I said what I thought they were doing here."
About a year ago, "There was an individual who was really well into it, and we've since learned that someone took his place after he moved," said Carter. "We had a deal where this one (white supremacist) was watching us and our activities. He'd park across the street and listen to us with a special device."
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigated the incident, and a similar occurrence in Elko County, Nev., authorities said.
Carter said ATF Agent Jimmy Gober went into the man's home with a search warrant and confiscated two firearms and several bugging devices. A judge later ordered authorities to return the items to the man, who has since moved elsewhere.
At Evanston, officials and residents this past week staged an anti-white supremacist rally attended by at least 1,000 people bent on discouraging supremacist Daniel Johnson from settling there.
Don Tolin, chairman of the Wyoming State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said Wyoming officials fear Johnson and other white supremacists may be discussing the possibility of making the state a central headquarters for their activities.
Johnson is the author of the John O. Pace Amendment, which advocates changing the U.S. Constitution to limit American citizenship to whites whose ancestry is either British or northwestern European.
Evanston officials believe Johnson chose their town because of its proximity to the Salt Lake airport and because both he and his wife have relatives in Utah.
In September 1987, Butler announced plans to build a chapter of his church in Ogden because, "We liked the place and we liked the people."
Butler's announcement was met immediately with heated reaction from law enforcement officials, local leaders and representatives of Ogden's black and Hispanic communities.
"He (Butler) would certainly never admit he canceled his plans to come here because of the pressure we put on him, but we made it very clear they (white supremacists) were not wanted in Ogden," said Ritchie. "I haven't heard a thing about it for at least eight months."
When Butler first announced plans to build a chapter in Ogden, he had just been indicted in Arkansas on federal charges of sedition involving conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government and financing other activities by armed robbery and counterfeiting.
"He was too busy doing other things to seriously think about extending with a chapter in Utah," Ritchie said.
Butler could not be reached for comment, but a secretary at his headquarters who asked not to be identified said Butler never continued with his Ogden plan because, "Perhaps there were just too many problems."
Ritchie also said he is not pursuing further formal training sessions for his officers to prepare them for incidents that sometimes accompany the insurgence of white supremacists into an area.
In addition, a spokesman for aryanWatch, a group of Utahns organized to oppose racism, said the organization has heard nothing further about Butler's plans.
"We've been quite inactive for the past several months because there's been no activity on the part of the Aryan Nations in Utah," said Gilbert Pacheco, an organizing member of aryanWatch.