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Monday, March 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

A quarter century later, Ruby Ridge debate continues

UPDATED: Wed., July 11, 2018, 10:25 p.m.

FILE - (Left to right) Gerry Spence, Randy Weaver, Kevin Harris and U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, who heard pretrial motions on April 12, 1993. (CHARLES WALTMIRE / SR)
FILE - (Left to right) Gerry Spence, Randy Weaver, Kevin Harris and U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, who heard pretrial motions on April 12, 1993. (CHARLES WALTMIRE / SR)
By D.F. Oliveria The Spokesman-Review

Richard Butler was in a swell mood on the eve of the 1993 Aryan World Congress at his 20-acre compound on the Rimrock above Hayden Lake.

The old Aryan Nations crocodile was celebrating news from Boise that white separatists Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris were found not guilty of murder and conspiracy. Weaver and Harris, of course, were survivors of the infamous August 1992 shootout at Ruby Ridge that left Weaver’s wife, Vicki, 14-year-old son, Sam, and U.S. Marshal William Degan dead.

“Now that the trial of the innocents is over, we should try the ones who did the killing,” Butler harrumphed to a handful of reporters, including one from the Coeur d’Alene Press.

Harris walked out of a federal courthouse 25 years ago this week, acquitted of all five counts against him. Weaver was found guilty of two lesser charges of the eight filed against him – and remained in jail.

The not guilty verdicts followed 12 weeks of trial, including a record 20 days of jury deliberation.

While Butler applauded the verdicts, others were stunned, including Degan’s widow.

The late Ray Stone, who was the feisty mayor of Coeur d’Alene at the time, summed up the thoughts of the pro-law enforcement crowd when he told a Press reporter: “The prosecutor did a lousy job. When you kill somebody, you’re guilty. That marshal didn’t fall over dead from a heart attack.”

And the debate over which side was right and which side was wrong at Ruby Ridge continues today.

Fan mail

Librarian Bette Ammon tells Huckleberries the problem with cigarette smoke at the entrance to the Coeur d’Alene Library (Huckleberries, June 26) will be resolved soon. Seems the City Council has passed an ordinance that will make the combined campus of the library and City Hall smoke-free. “Signs will be up shortly,” Bette said, “and ashtrays will be history.” Meanwhile, on Monday, a shaggy, middle-aged man on a bench near an outdoor ashtray enjoyed a “cancer stick” unaware that his time for polluting the air there was near end.


Poet’s Corner: Forgive me if/I slyly scoff./but why trust pigs/to guard the trough? – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Comment on Certain Candidates”) … According to an MSN Insider article by Zoe Miller, the 20 Most Beautiful USA Lakes include: No. 2 Crater (Oregon), No. 10 Flathead (Montana), No. 14 Pend Oreille (Idaho), and No. 15 Chelan (Washington). The boos you hear out there are coming from the precincts around lakes Coeur d’Alene and Priest … At Farragut Park, near Bayview, signs abound, prohibiting campers from tying up hammocks in the trees. Seems the hammocks damage the forest. But beachgoers regularly string up hammocks on Coeur d’Alene waterfront trees. Do you suppose the Coeur d’Alene trees are made of sterner stuff? … Kids Say Darn Things: When David Goodman, Angela and Doug’s 4-year-old son, learned that lasagna was on the menu for dinner, the Rathdrum lad responded: “With bacon?” Angela: “There’s no bacon in lasagna.” David: “There should be.” (In your heart, you know David’s right) … As he was winding up the superb show-tunes concert performed by Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre singers at Riverstone Park last Thursday, Kevin Jester’s tongue twisted. The Coeur d’Alene Arts & Culture Alliance rep meant to tell the audience to drive home “safe” and “careful.” But out came the mash-up: “Sareful.” Which probably won’t catch on … Speaking of twisted tongues, the harried, hair-netted woman scooping Yasso Greek Yogurt mint chocolate chip samples for the greedy hordes of bulk shoppers at Coeur d’Alene’s Costco slipped when she said: “It’s only $100 per bar.” She quickly corrected herself as customers chuckled: “I mean 100 calories per bar.”

Parting shot

And the answer is – hippies, etc. The question: What was bugging Idaho Gov. Don Samuelson, of Sandpoint, 50 years ago? In July 1968, Samuelson told 120 American Legion delegates gathered at Boise that he was “sick and tired of hippies, yippies, peaceniks and beatniks.” Samuelson, according to the Coeur d’Alene Press, wanted the Legionnaires to help “uncover improprieties” committed by the hip/yip/nik crowd. “It’s going to take guts to fight some of these knotheads who don’t have any respect for our country,” he fumed. And you thought we have troubles today?

D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be contacted at

Wordcount: 715

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