Business and civil rights leaders in Coeur d’Alene are planning an image-war counterpunch if the Aryan Nations gets a permit for an April parade.
There is a growing consensus, leaders say, to urge Coeur d’Alene businesses to shut down in a “closed to hate” campaign during the planned neo-Nazi march on April 18.
Community leaders also are discussing holding a civil rights youth conference the same day and inviting Idaho Gov. Phil Batt to be the featured speaker.
Batt frequently speaks out against the damage the Aryan Nations and its hate message have done to Idaho’s image.
At least one outsider is talking about a counter-rally to oppose the march.
A dozen community leaders met Tuesday with Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Judy, who said no decisions were reached.
“It was a brainstorming session, and I got a lot of advice,” Judy said.
One community leader who attended said the mayor “is in a quandary” and faces fallout if he approves or denies the permit.
“My primary concern is to make this non-confrontational and not cause a public-safety problem,” the mayor said.
Irv Rubin, leader of the Jewish Defense League, called Judy from Los Angeles and promised to organize a massive counter-demonstration.
Rubin said he opposes any “symbolic protest,” such as business closures. He said he told Judy that he will come to Coeur d’Alene and personally attempt to block the Aryan march if the parade permit is issued.
“You’ve got to take a stand against evil,” said Rubin, bragging he had just “shed blood” in an encounter with the Ku Klux Klan.
“The only thing bullies understand is the fist,” he said. “Good people of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene need to be given the option of just saying ‘no’ to this kind of filth.”
Rubin’s fiery reaction and threats of a counterdemonstration are causing as much consternation in Coeur d’Alene as the parade permit application from the Aryans.
“This is a very big deal over here,” one civil rights leader said after Tuesday’s strategy session with the mayor.
Judy said police are still processing the parade permit application filed Feb. 2 by Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler. The mayor said he still hasn’t decided whether to sign the permit for the “100 man flag parade.”
The city apparently can’t legally block the parade under freedom of assembly guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.
Some people, however, are urging the mayor to deny the parade permit and force a legal fight. But the city could be required to pay the Aryan Nations’ legal bills if the city lost in court.
The Aryan Nations is using the Internet to invite other white supremacists “from the four corners of the world” to Coeur d’Alene for the event.
The parade would coincide with an annual gathering of skinheads at the Aryan Nations compound north of Hayden Lake to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday.
, DataTimes MEMO: Idaho headline: Everybody doesn’t love a parade