December 11, 2009 in City

Prosecutors drop littering charges in racist fliers case

Distributors say they plan to keep exercising ‘constitutional right’
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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No criminal charges will be pursued against three Aryan Nations members cited for littering after Coeur d’Alene residents found fliers advertising the racist group in their yards this summer.

The recent move by city of Coeur d’Alene prosecutors to drop the misdemeanor littering charges clears the way for the group to continue to promote itself through mass distribution of fliers and other advertisements.

Paul R. Mullet, 36; Kevin B. McGuire, 27; and Todd N. Weston, 32, each faced four misdemeanor citations related to the distribution of Aryan Nations fliers in Coeur d’Alene.

Prosecutors recently asked for the charges to be dismissed after reviewing case law, said Deputy City Attorney Anna Eckhart.

“We have a duty not to prosecute cases that are not supported by case law,” Eckhart said, adding that courts “routinely” put distribution of religious and political fliers “over maintaining a litter-free community or protecting private property.”

Mullet, who lives in Athol and has a history of white nationalist activism in Minnesota, said he wasn’t surprised the charges were dropped.

“We know that we were in the right and that the Coeur d’Alene Police Department wasted time, money and resources to even try to fight an issue like that,” Mullet said.

In a prepared statement, Police Chief Wayne Longo said the legal system worked and he’ll abide by the prosecutor’s decision. Police declined further comment.

The Aryan Nations began distributing fliers earlier this year, prompting an unprecedented gathering of law enforcement and civic leaders from across the region decrying hate. Since then, the region has seen other racially motivated incidents, including a noose left on a Spokane woman’s doorstep and a swastika sticker affixed to the door of a Coeur d’Alene human rights center.

Most recently, a Coeur d’Alene man’s truck was spray-painted with a swastika and a racial epithet.

Mullet said his group has no connection to those crimes and opposes violence or harassment.

“This is not the Aryan Nations from before. This is the new Aryan Nations, and we will abide by the law,” Mullet said. “It’s about time that people started to realize what we’re doing is a constitutional right, and we’re going to keep doing it.”

Fliers hit Sandpoint and Bayview, Idaho, recently and will be distributed in Spokane and Spokane Valley soon, Mullet said.

The fliers that drew the littering charges featured a white woman and the phrase “Love your white race” and included contact information for the Aryan Nations.

Norm Gissel, the Coeur d’Alene attorney who spearheaded a civil lawsuit that bankrupted the Aryan Nations and its late leader, Richard Butler, in 2000, said he sees the literature as a recruitment aid for the civil rights movement.

“That is such awful literature that it’s almost a net gain for civil rights to have it out there,” Gissel said. “The message is so grotesque and outrageous.”

McGuire still faces a trespassing charge after he was arrested in August outside Jimmy C’s bar in Athol. Bar patrons said he’d been making racist comments, but McGuire told Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies they only wanted him to leave “because I’m white,” according to court documents.

McGuire unsuccessfully ran for the Bozeman school board in 2005, criticizing schools for discriminating against European-Americans, according to the Montana Human Rights Network. He’s also been tied to the distribution of racist literature there, according to the network.


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