Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Judy frustrated many of us for the past two months by delaying his decision on the Aryan Nations’ request for a parade permit.
Civil libertarians insisted he grant the permit, citing the supremacists’ First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.
Community boosters, however, lobbied the mayor to deny the request and take his slender chances in court.
Now, we see the wisdom of the mayor’s deliberation. By dragging his feet, Judy had hoped to reduce the time the Aryans and their principal archrival, the Jewish Defense League, had to organize a march and a possible counterdemonstration. In the process, he inadvertently gave Butler enough wiggle room to make a mistake.
And the old racist has obliged him.
Last week, Butler apparently lost the upper hand in his civics game of chicken when he tried to change his parade date from April 18 to July 25, the second day of his annual Aryan Nations congress. Before he submitted his new permit request, however, the Downtown Association beat him to City Hall with paperwork for a street fair that weekend. Now, the neo-Nazis, of all people, are crying “foul.”
“We intend to exercise our constitutional rights and hold our parade,” Butler said. “We’ll go to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) if we need to.”
At this point, Mayor Judy should borrow the old “Dirty Harry” line: “Go ahead, make my day.” Under city law, police can refuse to allow two special events on the same day for safety and security reasons. In fact, Judy cited that ordinance in denying the Jewish Defense League’s request to countermarch on Butler’s original parade date, April 18.
Butler has only himself to blame for his predicament.
Judy and other Coeur d’Alene officials privately were resigned to permitting an April 18 parade, if Butler had pushed ahead with it. However, Butler lacked the funds to do so. The Aryan Nations lost some $2,200 needed to underwrite the event when member Thomas Barklett Elliott jumped the bail Butler had posted for him after he was arrested for driving without privileges.
While the Aryans self-destructed, Judy kept his own counsel. As a result, Coeur d’Alene probably will enjoy a festive final weekend in July, as area racists burn their cross of hate out of sight and out of mind.
Good things come to those who wait.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board