Posts tagged: kootenai county task force on human relations
A blog, Not In Our Town, has started to raise awareness and support for the residents of Leith, N.D., who are fighting an attempted takeover of their town by a white supremacist. You can read more here.
On Saturday, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations sent the following open letter to the 22 residents of Leith, N.D., and all other North Dakotans (in wake of the attempt by a white supremacist from Canada to establish a racist stronghold in Leith):
“The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations Board of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, stands in solidarity with the good residents of Leith. We praise you for your courageous determination to oppose the message of hate and those who promote white supremacy. You are doing exactly what all communities should do and that is never remain silent in the face of hate. We have spent 32 years opposing the doctrines and activities of the neo-Nazis and other extremists’ movements and thus we stand shoulder to shoulder with you and ask all the good people of North Dakota to do the same.”
Question: Are you concerned re: the attempt by a white supremacist to take over the small North Dakota town of Leith?
The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations Board announced today the keynote speaker and other details of the upcoming 16th annual human rights banquet to be held in cooperation with the Human Rights Education Institute on Monday, April 22 at the Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn. Gregory H. Stanton (pictured), president of the international “Genocide Watch”, will deliver the banquet keynote titled: “Ending Genocide: Local Action is the Best Way to Prevent Atrocities”. During his speech, Dr. Stanton will present examples of how local movements successfully defeated the Aryan Nations in the Inland Northwest, dictators Milosevic in Yugoslavia and Charles Taylor in Liberia and caused the fall of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party/Tony Stewart, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. More here.
Question: Have you ever attended the annual Human Rights Banquet?
The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations’ Board of Directors announced today their full support of Idaho SB 1358 known as the anti-bullying bill to protect Idaho’s school children. The Board indicated that although it is already against Idaho law to bully another student in Idaho schools, this bill both expands and covers areas presently not addressed in the current legislation. Senate Bill 1358 requires every school district to have its own anti-bullying policy, provides for teacher training, makes sure teachers and school staff know that they are expected to intervene and keep kids safe when they see bullying occur, and very importantly the bill sets penalties for cyberbullying. More here. (2009 SR file photo of task force leaders Christie Wood & Tony Stewart at a human-rights event)
Question: Can you think of any legislator who would oppose this common-sense bill?
Thank you so much for using the comments by Christie and me in today’s Huckleberries. It is greatly appreciated. Please allow me to take this opportunity to make a few observations about the media’s coverage for more than 30 years of the human rights movement to counter the activities of hate activities and hate crimes in the Pacific Northwest. As I have said on numerous occasions, there is no doubt in my mind that the two journalists in the entire United States with the most extensive knowledge and expertise on this subject are Dave Oliveria and Bill Morlin. Between these two excellent journalists, they have a combined history of more than 60 years. I have often referred reporters from such newspapers as the “New York Times” to Dave or Bill for background information. We are fortunate that you both have chosen to stay in the Inland Northwest during your successful journalism career. And the Southern Poverty Law Center was very wise to recently bring Bill on board as part of their blog reporting/Tony Stewart, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. More here.
DFO: 'Tis nice to be lumped in the same sentence as Bill by someone is revered in this community as Tony.
Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations members weren’t happy with Huckleberries’ description of the venerable group last Sunday – as one that “prefers to accentuate the positive and focus on education.” Tony Stewart and Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Christie Wood emailed my HucksOnline blog that the highlighted activities are but a “partial description of who we are.” Huckleberries had spotlighted how Rachel Dolezal, formerly of the Human Rights Education Institute, faced down KKKers during their protest of the task force-backed MLK Day event for fifth-graders at North Idaho College Jan. 13. In their email, Stewart and Wood listed hate-crime victims the task force has helped, dating back to attacks against Hayden restaurant owner Sid Rosen and Coeur d’Alene mother Connie Fort in the early 1980s. The group, they said, was instrumental in the 1998 case of Victoria and Jason Keenan that ultimately bankrupted the Aryan Nations. The 1986 bombing of the late Bill Wassmuth’s home is an example of serious threats task force members have endured, they said, adding: “We are not just a feel good organization”/DFO, SR Sunday Huckleberries. More here.
Question: Have you ever been involved with the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations?
Re: Rachel Dolezal's protest/DFO, Sunday Huckleberries (2nd item)
In the “Spokesman Review” Huckleberries column on Sunday, January 22, 2012, it was suggested that the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations prefers to accentuate the positive and focus on education with regard to confronting bigotry, prejudice and hate. This is only a partial description of who we are. For 31 years, the work and activities of the KCTFHR have included supporting the victims of hate crimes going back as far as the Sid Rosen and Connie Fort cases in the early 1980’s, the Victoria and Jason Keenan case in 1998 and the more recent 2011 Marlon Baker case. Let us not forget that members of our board have experienced serious threats on their lives such as the bombing of the late Father Bill Wassmuth’s home. We are not just a feel good organization/Christie Wood & Tony Stewart, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. More here. (2009 SR file photo: Tony Stewart, right, and Sgt. Christie Wood speaks to media about racist literature)
Question: Have you ever participated in an event staged by the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations?
Middle school students in Coeur d'Alene are viewing film footage of their own community this morning, as part of a classroom lesson on racism. The Idaho Public Television special, “The Color of Conscience,” is being shown to Lakes Magnet Middle School students. Following the showing of the film, students in all the school's advisory classes will participate in teacher-led followup discussions on racism. Produced by Idaho Public Television host, Marcia Franklin, “The Color of Conscience” first aired in May. The documentary examines the past 30 years of the modern human rights movement in Idaho, and chronicles the efforts of local human rights activists who in 1981 founded the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Tony Stewart, of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, holds up a 1988 Oregonian story re: the Aryan Nations)
Question: Should local schools offer classes on a local history of racism involving the Aryan Nations and the response by the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations?
The latest dose of accommodation comes from the Coeur d’Alene Press, which is owned by grandiosity magnate Duane Hagadone. The Press published an editorial last week glibly dismissing the work of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations as yesterday’s news. The editorial – which has drawn outraged responses from task force stalwarts Tony Stewart and Norm Gissel – dealt with the departure of Human Rights Education Institute honcho Dan LePow, who raised less money than was hoped. The unsigned editorial assures readers that “We are ardent supporters of human rights causes in general and HREI in particular.” But the Press’s ardor for human rights runs aground on the shoals of not really wanting to get all specific about local racism. It’s such a bummer. Makes it hard to raise money from the wine-sipping cheese eaters who like their human rights more along the lines of “children’s safety” and “international peace”/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.
Question: What do you say to people who don't think the region still has a problem with racism?
The Task Force has listened to Neville Chamberlain style assertions for all the years of its existence. In fact the comment “If you don’t say anything about the Nazis, they will simply go away” is by far the most common criticism the Task Force hears. The opposite is true and will always be true. The Nazis themselves regard community silence as a cultural affirmation of their atrocious actions and beliefs. The victims of the Nazis also regard community silence as a community’s affirmation of the actions that harm them. In this context, both the Nazis and their victims are right. To our knowledge the editors of the Press have never argued that we should be silent around child abuse and child abusers, rape and rapists, theft and thieves, murder and murderers, arson and arsonists, etc, etc, etc. But we should be silent around Racists and their criminal activities when they occur? No. No not now and no not ever/Norm Gissel, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. More here. (SR file photo of Norm Gissel with Tony Stewart in background)
Question: Do you think the work of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations is almost finished?
Over the weekend, Editor Mike Patrick of the Coeur d'Alene Press chided the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations for “living in the past.” Quoth: “(Human Rights Education Institute) is trying to grow into a broad-based human rights education organization, while the task force seems stuck on racism and its glory days of bringing down Richard Butler and his band of Aryan misfits. Ignoring history may guarantee that it's repeated, but living in the past assures one never progresses. In our view, there is too much emphasis from the task force on what was, and not enough on what is or what can be. Constantly reliving the rise and fall of Butler's pathetic little empire does more than keep the past alive and give it ever greater significance in the annals of North Idaho; it reopens wounds among a compassionate populace. And it provides parasitic modern-day racists with the attention they must have to survive.” Full editorial here. (SR photo/Kathy Plonka: Human rights leader Tony Stewart holding up a 1988 edition of the Oregonian.)
Question: Is the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations living in the past? Or is the Coeur d'Alene Press trying to sweep bigotry under the rug?
For white supremacists who have made North Idaho home over the years hoping the region would one day become a white homeland, Tony Stewart (pictured) has this message: Sorry, but just the opposite is happening. When Idaho’s most recent U.S. Census numbers came out, Stewart, a retired North Idaho College political science instructor, crunched the numbers dating back to 1990. He came up with results that bolster his greatest passion – human rights. The co-founder of the 30-year-old Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations says his results show the increasing diversification of one of the country’s whitest regions. … (Stewart told the Kootenai County Democratic Club Friday): “I stand here 38 years after Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations arrived in northern Idaho to present to you the overwhelming evidence that diversity and a multiculture society is prevailing over the advocates of a whites-only land”/Alison Boggs, SR. More here.
Question: Are you glad to see the growing diversity in Kootenai County and North Idaho?
The Kootenai County Democratic Club will host an address by Tony Stewart (pictured), a co-founder of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations more than 30 years ago, on Friday, May 13 at Noon. The luncheon will be held at the Iron Horse Restaurant in Coeur d’Alene. Stewart will address the topic “The 2010 United States Census Confirms the Failure of the Aryan Nations to Create an All-White Homeland in the Inland Northwest.” … Stewart will discuss his findings with regard to the goal of the Aryan Nations and Richard Butler to make this region as well as the five Northwest states of Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana into an all-white homeland. More here.
Question: Are you aware that Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations sought to transform the Inland Northwest into a white homeland under their “territorial imperative” doctrine?
We have to become the change we wish to see in the world. It was his grandfather's message, and Arun Gandhi, grandson of the legendary pacifist and spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi, carried that message Monday to North Idaho. Arun shared some of the lessons he learned from his grandfather with more than 450 people who attended the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations' 14th annual Human Rights Banquet at the Best Western Coeur d'Alene Inn. “Non-violence is about learning how to be with your anger and learning how to channel it positively and constructively,” Arun told the crowd. Like his grandfather, Arun learned the benefits of peaceful conflict resolution from his own life experiences/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Why is our culture so violent?
Arun Gandhi, grandson of legendary Mahatma Gandhi, will be the featured speaker for the 14th annual Human Rights banquet of the Kootenai County Task Force On Human Relations this evening at the Coeur d'Alene Inn. Arun Gandhi grew up in South Africa during apartheid and frequently was beaten by both white and black youth because of his race. When he was 12, his parents sent him to India to be with his famous grandfather when they discovered how angry he’d become. Through his grandfather’s guidance, he learned to appreciate peaceful nonviolence. In 1991, Arun Gandhi and his late wife, Sunanda, founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester in New York. Gandhi’s speech is titled: “Lessons learned from my grandfather: Nonviolence in a violent world.” The event begins at 5:30 with a social hour, followed by dinner at 6:30. Story here.
Question: What is the greatest challenge facing human rights leaders in North Idaho today?
Tony Stewart, of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, sent the following letter to Fox News President Roger Ailes re: reporter John Stossel's comments about American Indians: “It is with deep disappointment and sadness that we viewed the Fox and Friends commentary featuring John Stossel regarding his biased and hurtful comments regarding Native Americans. Mr. Stossel’s failure to understand and appreciate the tragic history suffered by the truly first Americans, the American Indians, demonstrates a lack of knowledge or support to remedy the wrongs of the past. We suggest that Mr. Stossel inform himself regarding the millions of acres taken from the American Indians, the U.S. military forcibly removing Indians from those lands, and the slaughtering of the men, women and children of the tribes.” (AP file photo, of John Stossel)
Marshall Mend, of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, holds a picture of the first documented hate crime in Hayden — the cowardly attack on Sid Rosen's restaurant that stood at the corner of Government Way & Miles. The attack prompted the creation of the task force. Rosen, a respected chef who was targeted by local racists because he was Jewish, died on Monday at age 90. A graveside service was held for him today and then a memorial at Nosworthy's to commemorate a productive life that wasn't stopped by the hatemongers. You can read Sid's obituary here. And you can read the role that Rosen and his restaurant played in the local human rights movement here. You can also read an editorial that I wrote in February 2001 about the local human rights movement and the role Sid Rosen played in it in the drop-down box below.
Question: Have you attended an event sponsored by the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations?
Human-rights leader Tony Stewart (pictured in SR file photo) of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations today visited the two Mexican food stands that were picketed by white supremacists before the Martin Luther King holiday this month. In a phone interview, Tony told Huckleberries that he told the vendors (of Chiludo's, at 3000 Government Way, and Taco Works, at 5th & Appleway) that the racist protesters don't represent Coeur d'Alene values — and promised to tell his friends and acquaintances to frequent the business in a show of support. Tony and task force VP Christie Wood were en route to Spokane for a 3 o'clock meeting with Mayor Mary Verner and others to recommend how to respond to the attempted bombing that appears to have targeted the MLK Day parade this week. Also, Tony said he talked to CNN reporters three different times Thursday, to explain Coeur d'Alene's response to racist activity in the past and also to the Wall Street Journal and the Missoulian.
Question: Have you considered buying a meal from the two Mexican food stands to show your support for them, after the supremacist protest?
This will not be an easy task. The demonization of political opponents has turned into a cottage industry of hate that benefits many. And the emotions of regular people have been raised to a frenzy by the politics of fear from all sides of the debate. But Idaho can offer a model for taking on the worst elements. No matter what the motivation of the shooter, who killed six and wounded Giffords and more than a dozen others, the incident has prompted a national discussion that is long overdue. There was a time not long ago when Idaho was viewed as the center of the right-wing hate movement in the United States. But even as our politics has become more conservative, we have excised the hate-mongers and our image as a refuge for neo-Nazis. We had become a base for these people because of our tolerance and our basic “leave-us-alone” attitude. But when we as a state realized where it had taken us, we shifted gears led by leaders like Phil Batt and Bill Wassmuth/Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. More here. (SR file photo of Bill Wassmuth at 1997 NIC Popcorn Forum)
Question: What have you done personally as a blogger and online commenter to reduce hateful rhetoric and inflamed political commentary online?
The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations is holding a press conference and peaceful rally, in response to the WBC protests throughout the community, on Friday, October 22 at 9:00 AM at the Human Rights Education Institute Center in Coeur d’Alene. The Center is located on Mullan Road adjacent to the Coeur d’Alene City Park. The joint press conference and rally will feature statements by America’s veterans, religious leaders, youth, educators, government officials, business and labor leaders, representatives from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, law enforcement and the minority communities.
Question: Which approach to the Westboro Baptist Church do you prefer — passive resistance and a rally as advocated by Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations or direct confrontation in a counter-protest?
Sgt. Christie Wood, vice-chairman of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, gives a hug to artist Julie Wood at the unveiling of the black marble tablet commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Keenans V. The Aryan Nations verdict while Marshall Mend, left, a long-time task force member member, and former Coeur d’Alene Tribe chairman Ernie Stensgar look on. Kerri Thoreson/More Main Street snapped the shot above and provided more information about the event here.
Question: How many of you were here when followers of Richard Butler’s Aryan Nations bombed Coeur d’Alene in fall 1986?