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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

White supremacists pick Hayden Lake for meeting this weekend, leading human rights group to organize counter-events

A white supremacist group is holding a private gathering Saturday in Hayden Lake, spurring a local human rights group to host its own events the same day.

Details on the Aryan Freedom Network gathering posted on its website include a graphic of the state of Idaho with the phrase, “Keep Idaho White,” and a swastika inside the state.

The time of the event is not listed. A member of the group, who declined to provide his name on the phone, told The Spokesman-Review it’s a private gathering on private property.

The website’s homepage complains that white people “are faced with reverse discrimination in government, churches, schools, jobs, promotions and scholarships.”

It states the network is committed to the “interests, ideas, security and cultural values of the White Race. We are determined to protect our Race from going into extinction.”

Jeanette Laster, executive director of Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene, said North Idaho is welcoming and inclusive, and the institute is concerned when organizations that oppose those views visit.

“Although this group has a First Amendment right to be here, it doesn’t mean we as a community have to embrace their ideology, and we also have a First Amendment right to say something about that,” Laster said.

Love Lives Here CDA, a program under education institute, is holding a “Kindness Toss” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at McIntire Family Park in Hayden in response to the white supremacist meeting, according to the group’s Facebook page. The event is intended to spread messages of kindness.

It asks attendees to meet at the park, 8930 N. Government Way, around 11:15 a.m. to split into two teams. One team will hold “LLH” and “kindness” signs on Government Way and the other team will hand out LLH Frisbees and stickers.

At 1:30 p.m., people are invited to the human right institute, 414 W. Fort Grounds Dr., Coeur d’Alene, for a discussion about how the community can address the threat of hate groups. A former white supremacist, a law enforcement officer and three students of color and different religious backgrounds will be part of the discussion.

Both events are free.

“We know that North Idaho is a beautiful and welcoming community and our role is to make sure that people know that and appreciate that, and we will speak out against racism and that kind of ideology when it comes forth because we’ve worked long and hard to keep that reputation,” Laster said.

She said the language on the Aryan Freedom Network’s website is concerning.

The site includes several Nazi-related messages and photos, including book recommendations for people “learning or new to the White Racialist message,” and sections on “race-mixing” and identifying Jewish people. Adolf Hitler’s writing is recommended on the site.

North Idaho fought against a reputation of white supremacists for years, and many still associate the region with the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist group that is now disbanded. The group had a compound north of Hayden Lake.

The North Idaho College Foundation announced in 2020 that it sold the 20-acre site of the former Aryan Nations headquarters, according to a Spokesman-Review story. The sale supported an endowment for NIC human rights education and programming named after Gregory C. Carr, the man who gave the property to the foundation in 2002.

The Carr Foundation purchased the compound when the Aryan Nations went bankrupt after a $6.3 million civil lawsuit in 2000.