Anniversary of Aryan Nations verdict inspires celebration

  • Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 3:50pm
  • News

Associated Press

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — A celebration is planned for the 10th anniversary of the trial that bankrupted the Aryan Nations in northern Idaho.

The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations on Sept. 7 will mark the Sept. 7, 2000, day when a civil jury in Coeur d’Alene returned a verdict of $6.3 million against the white supremacist group after its guards attacked two people.

The verdict forced Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler to give up his compound and the group eventually withered away. Butler died a few years later. Other groups have cropped up around the country that use the name Aryan Nations.

The ceremony will be outside the Kootenai County Courthouse, near the downtown area where the Aryan Nations for years held public parades that drew a handful of supporters and large numbers of opponents.

Tony Stewart, a founder of the task force, thanked county commissioners for quickly approving a permit for the ceremony at the courthouse.

“The Kootenai County commissioners were very supportive and most helpful in making this anniversary happen,” Stewart said.

In 1998, Victoria Keenan and her son Jason were driving by the Aryan Nations compound outside Hayden Lake, Idaho, when they were attacked by Aryan Nations’ security guards, who thought their backfiring car was a firearm shot. The Keenan’s car was hit by bullets and driven off a public highway.

Victoria Keenan contacted the task force, which recruited Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center to represent the Keenans in the civil trial.

After the verdict, the Keenans were awarded the Aryan Nations compound. They sold it to philanthropist Greg Carr, who had the buildings torn down and then donated the land to the North Idaho College Foundation.

The ceremony will include presentation of a marble monument that pays tribute to the jury, Carr, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the task force and attorneys for the Keenans.