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Racist propaganda targets diversity event at North Idaho College

North Idaho College security officer Kelly Hopkins patrols NIC Beach in this photo from 2014. Fliers espousing racist views were distributed on the Coeur d’Alene campus in advance of Tuesday’s Diversity Symposium. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
North Idaho College security officer Kelly Hopkins patrols NIC Beach in this photo from 2014. Fliers espousing racist views were distributed on the Coeur d’Alene campus in advance of Tuesday’s Diversity Symposium. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Postcards and flyers espousing racist conspiracy theories were distributed at North Idaho College and at least one nearby neighborhood in Coeur d’Alene, with some materials targeting the college’s fourth annual Diversity Symposium, happening Tuesday.

NIC spokeswoman Laura Rumpler said an older white man in a suit was spotted on campus Friday distributing the hateful propaganda. The man was cooperative when approached by a security guard, Rumpler said. She said was unable to identify him.

Laura Tenneson, a member of the Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee, said flyers and postcards targeting the Diversity Symposium also appeared Friday in the neighborhood east of Tubbs Hill.

The postcards mocked the symposium and accused NIC of “hate hoaxing” and spreading “fictional recollections of victimhood.” They said people should attend the event in blackface.

The flyers featured about a dozen racist caricatures and attacked various progressive causes.

Tenneson shared photos of similar materials that surfaced in the area on Valentine’s Day. They featured the “14 words” slogan invented by David Lane, a member of the white supremacist terrorist group The Order, which was founded in 1983 in Metaline, Washington.

“Having been a Coeur d’Alene resident for 10 years, I know that people here have no idea the kind of hate groups that live among us,” Tenneson said.

She noted that the Aryan Nations, and other racist groups that occupied North Idaho in the 1980s and ’90s, were “loud and proud,” holding marches and donning swastika armbands.

“In the cases that I’ve seen recently, these people are in hiding,” Tenneson said.

Rumpler, with NIC, said the college aims to provide a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. The college has a security team as well as a resource officer from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

The Diversity Symposium will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in NIC’s Lake Coeur d’Alene Room. The keynote speaker will be documentary photographer Daniella Zalcman, who’s working on a portrait series about survivors of Canada’s Indian residential schools.

A full schedule and free registration for the symposium can be found online.

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