SPOKANE, Wash. — Today, days before they lose their rural compound, members of the Aryan Nations will march defiantly down the streets of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
The march is the most visible sign that Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler is not going away despite the $6.3-million judgment awarded against him in a civil rights lawsuit Sept. 7.
"It's to drive home the point that I'm not running out of town like a whipped dog," Butler said after filing for the parade permit.
It's not clear how many supporters of the neo-Nazi group will march in support of its anti-Semitic, white supremacist message. Some parades have had nearly 100 participants. Last year's event drew fewer than two dozen, who were greatly outnumbered by protesters and news media representatives.
Butler's supporters have been using the Internet to try to draw marchers to Coeur d'Alene, 30 miles east of Spokane.
"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.
Bertollini, a wealthy computer executive who lives in Sandpoint, Idaho, recently bought a house in nearby Hayden that Butler is living in.
One protest group, the Seattle-based United Front Against Fascism, plans to attend the 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 parades in court but have failed because of constitutional free-speech protections.
Human rights groups in the area do not believe in directly confronting the Aryans. The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations will use the parade as the occasion to roll out its new "Idaho, the Human Rights State" public relations campaign.
Protesters say that's wrong.
"Turning your back on the fascists only encourages them," said Gil Veyna of the United Front.
All Coeur d'Alene police officers will work today, joined by staff from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department and the 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.
Butler took out a permit for more than 100 participants on Sept. 8--the day after losing the lawsuit brought by Victoria and Jason Keenan, a mother and son.
The Keenans were chased and shot at by Aryan Nations security guards when they drove past the group's compound near Hayden Lake, Idaho, in 1998. A jury found Butler and the Aryan Nations negligent.
On Thursday, a judge denied a new trial for the Aryan Nations, clearing the way for the Keenans to take over the 20-acre compound as soon as next week.