May 15, 1995 in Nation/World

Racist Plans Move To North Idaho Ex-Kkk Leader Is Considered One Of Nation’s Most Active And Most Dangerous Militants

Bill Morlin Kevin Keating Contributed Staff writer
 
Tags:profile

FOR THE RECORD: Tuesday, May 16, 1995 CLARIFICATION: Robert Payne, a friend of former Ku Klux Klan leader Louis Beam, no longer works at Brook’s Hotel in Wallace, Idaho, as of last Thursday, the hotel’s owner said. A photo caption in Monday’s newspaper incorrectly suggested he still works there.

A former Ku Klux Klan leader considered one of the nation’s most influential and potentially dangerous racists wants to build a home in North Idaho.

Louis Beam, who has been at the head of the racist pack for more than two decades, is buying land east of Sandpoint.

He is making the purchase with Paul Hall, of Mariposa, Calif., who publishes a nationally distributed anti-Semitic newspaper, The Jubilee.

Beam is positioning himself - literally and perhaps figuratively - halfway between the Aryan Nations at Hayden Lake, Idaho, and the Militia of Montana in Noxon.

“His move to North Idaho is of great concern to anyone who values justice and peace,” says Bill Wassmuth of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment.

Wassmuth and others wonder if Beam is a possible successor to Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler.

The 77-year-old Aryan leader remains in command at his Hayden Lake headquarters. Butler says he welcomes Beam’s arrival in the Northwest, which the two always have preached should become a homeland for white people.

But Butler says he has no plans that would allow Beam, 48, to become his successor.

“He’s one of my closest friends, but he has his own agenda,” Butler said last week.

Beam isn’t talking and remains elusive.

In the 1980s, his racist neo-Nazi friends gave him the code name “Lone Star.”

It was a proud reference to Beam’s home state of Texas, where he was grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s.

As a highly visible Klan leader, he fought with Vietnamese immigrant fishermen in Texas and volunteered to patrol the U.S. border for illegal aliens.

He later became a confidant to Butler and traveled the United States as Aryan ambassador.

Spreading the racist message became the life cause of Beam, who served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter door-gunner.

Beam advocated paramilitary training for whites long before the current militia concept evolved.

He called for “leaderless resistance,” a strategy for carrying out violent actions in small independent cells to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Beam’s friends, who had their own code names in a terrorist group known as The Order, went to prison for various crimes in 1985.

They followed an assassination system developed by Beam. It called for the murder of federal officials, law enforcement officers and prominent individuals.

“Lone Star” was accused of being a godfather to The Order, and those ties put him on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.

The fugitive and his young wife, Sheila Toohey, fled to Mexico, where they got in a shootout with police before being apprehended in 1987.

Returned to the United States, Beam beat the federal indictment accusing him of ties to The Order and plotting the overthrow of the U.S. government.

“To hell with the federal government!” he shouted at the base of a Confederate soldier shrine after he had been acquitted in Fort Smith, Ark., in 1988.

Beam explained that his next realm of achievements in the white supremacy movement would necessitate individual acts and secrecy.

Then Beam largely disappeared in the underground world of the radical right.

He appeared as a correspondent for The Jubilee newspaper and was ejected from a press briefing during the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas, in 1993. He appeared last year at a gathering of white separatists in California and at the Aryan Nations.

But mostly, Beam has remained underground.

His land purchase in North Idaho surprises some.

He is the latest in a series of white supremacists, separatists and Christian Identity followers who have followed Butler’s earlier call to make the Northwest their home.

The list includes Bo Gritz, who has his “Almost Heaven” development near Kamiah, Idaho, and David Barley, who moved his pro-white Christian Identity church from Arizona to Sandpoint.

Beam ducks reporters and isn’t answering questions about why he’s moving to the region.

He has been staying periodically at friends’ homes in Careywood and Osburn, Idaho.

His friend in Osburn, Robert Eric Payne, is the brother of Neil Payne, a Texas chiropractor and Beam associate who has been active for years in the white supremacy movement.

Public records show that Beam wants to build his home about eight miles east of Sandpoint.

The home site is on a 36-acre parcel recently sold to Beam and Hall.

After buying their North Idaho land, Beam and Hall signed quit-claim deeds giving title to the property to their wives, Sheila Toohey Beam and Paula Henry Hall.

That is consistent with a philosophy of many radical right leaders who want to make themselves “judgmentproof” from court actions.

Only a small camper trailer sits on the swampy property on Sunnyside Cutoff Road, just a short distance from Lake Pend Oreille.

There may be significance in the home site.

Beam is halfway between the Aryan Nations headquarters near Hayden Lake and his friends, John, David and Randy Trochmann, who head the Militia of Montana in Noxon.

Beam has been a regular speaker at the Aryan World Congress, held by Butler each July in North Idaho.

But it was the Randy Weaver siege at Ruby Ridge in August 1992 that gave Beam an even bigger audience - one that has evolved into the militia movement.

He was the first guest speaker in Sandpoint in October 1992 after the Trochmanns and others had formed an anti-government, militia-type group in response to the Weaver siege.

Beam came to Idaho from Austin, Texas, vowing vengeance and promising to “be confrontational with the federals” because of the deaths of Vicki Weaver and her son.

Beam’s move to the region worries law enforcement officials and civil rights watchdogs.

In 1990, the Anti-Defamation League called Beam “one of the most influential and potentially dangerous figures in the white supremacy movement.”

Nothing has changed in the last five years to take that dubious honor away from Beam, says Tom Halpern, national fact-finding director for the ADL.

“His apparent permanent move to the Northwest is a matter of some concern,” said ADL spokesman Marvin Stern in Seattle.

Stern said Beam’s ties with the Aryan Nations and more recent contacts with the militia movement “suggest the need to continue careful monitoring of his activities and associations.”

At the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., Klanwatch staffers say Beam is a prolific writer and an eloquent, fiery speaker.

“Louis Beam is a fanatic and should be taken very seriously,” Klanwatch’s Danny Welch wrote recently.

“He has never been one to be all talk and no action,” Welch said of Beam. “He doesn’t just advocate going underground - he does it. He doesn’t just preach violence - he is quite capable of it.”

Wassmuth agreed and said Beam’s background “puts him in a position of leadership that could escalate supremacists’ activities in the Northwest.”

“However, he will find - just as other supremacists - that the vast majority of people in the Northwest will not stand idly by and will oppose his bigotry.”

ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color)

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THE BEAM FILE A glance at Louis Beam, who hopes to build a home east of Sandpoint: Advocated paramilitary training for whites long before the current militia concept evolved. Was Ku Klux Klan grand dragon in the 1970s. Was accused of being a godfather to The Order, leading to his placement on the FBI’s list of 10 Most-Wanted. Beat a federal indictment accusing him of of ties to The Order and plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Bill Morlin Staff writer Staff writer Kevin Keating contributed to this article.

This sidebar appeared with the story: THE BEAM FILE A glance at Louis Beam, who hopes to build a home east of Sandpoint: Advocated paramilitary training for whites long before the current militia concept evolved. Was Ku Klux Klan grand dragon in the 1970s. Was accused of being a godfather to The Order, leading to his placement on the FBI’s list of 10 Most-Wanted. Beat a federal indictment accusing him of of ties to The Order and plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Bill Morlin Staff writer Staff writer Kevin Keating contributed to this article.


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