Court upholds judgment against Butler; neo-Nazi vows to continue cause of hate

Associated Press

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho — A judge has denied a new trial for the Aryan Nations, clearing the way for the winners of a $6.3 million judgment to take control of the neo-Nazi group’s rural compound.

First District Judge Charles Hosack also declined Thursday to reduce the size of the judgment and rejected the defendants’ contention that their right to hate was protected by the constitution.

The defendants were liable for the actions caused by their hate, Hosack wrote.

Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler, the group and some of its members were found negligent by a jury Sept. 7. The lawsuit was brought by Victoria and Jason Keenan, a mother and son who were chased and shot at by Aryan Nations security guards near the group’s compound in 1998.

Jurors ruled that Butler and his organization were negligent in selecting and overseeing the guards, who assaulted the Keenans after they had stopped to search for a dropped wallet near the compound’s entrance.

The plaintiffs were represented by Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has filed similar lawsuits as a method to fight hate and discrimination.

Butler, 82, has said he would peacefully turn over his 20-acre compound if his motion for a new trial failed. He is living about 15 miles away in a home purchased by a supporter. Any property listed in Butler’s name would be subject to seizure by the Keenans.

The Keenans have not said what they will do with the compound, but Dees has suggested it could be used as an education center against hate.

Butler is vowing to continue pushing his white supremacist, anti-Semitic philosophy. Today, Butler and his supporters will hold a parade on the main street of Coeur d’Alene.

It’s not clear how many supporters of the neo-Nazi group will march in support of its anti-Semitic, white supremacist message. Past parades have had close to 100 participants. Last year’s event drew fewer than two dozen, who were greatly outnumbered by protesters and news media representatives.

All Coeur d’Alene police officers will work toSday, joined by staff from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department and Idaho State Police. Officers will set up barriers along the parade route to keep marchers and protesters apart. Anyone who crosses the barriers will be arrested, Sheriff Rocky Watson has said.

One protest group, the Seattle-based United Front Against Fascism, plans to attend the 11 a.m. parade.

"Fascism cannot be vanquished in the courts alone," said Luma Nichol, a founder of the group.

Coeur d’Alene city officials have tried to block past parades in court, but failed because of constitutional free-speech protections.

Butler’s supporters have been using the Internet to try and draw marchers.

"This is a white pride and racial awareness march where true Aryans are standing together … and showing the fine folks of north Idaho and the national media that we are not going to be silenced," wrote Vincent Bertollini of the white-supremacist 11th Hour Remnant Messenger.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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