In a blow to hate groups that have made the Northwest their clubhouse, the founder of the Aryan Nations has agreed to give up his Idaho compound to satisfy a $6.3 million verdict against the white supremacist organization.
Richard Butler wanted to avoid the spectacle of sheriff’s vans showing up to seize the property, said Richard Cohen, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.
Butler also agreed to no longer use the name Aryan Nations. He will deed the property to Victoria and Jason Keenan, who won the jury award after they were attacked outside the sect’s compound in 1998.
“The Keenans will be able to do with the property what they want,” Cohen said today.
Edgar Steele, who represented Butler during the trial, said the deal will go through only if a judge refuses to grant a new trial.
End of a ‘White Homeland’
The 20-acre property containing the neo-Nazi sect’s church, barracks buildings and Butler’s home were scheduled for seizure next Friday. Under the agreement reached Thursday, Butler will remain on the property until Oct. 25, one week after the expected ruling on a request for a new trial.
The Hitler-loving Aryan Nations moved to a ranch in the area in the 1970s and declared it was creating a white homeland.
Butler moved to northern Idaho from California in 1973. He began holding an annual event called the Aryan Nations Congress in 1981, attracting racist and anti-government groups from across the country.
A recent report by the Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity identified 11 white supremacist groups in Idaho, 10 of them in the Panhandle, a region of beautiful lakes and forested mountains that draws thousands of tourists and retirees.
Earlier this month, a Kootenai County jury found Butler, a co-defendant, and the Aryan Nations negligent in hiring and training the security guards who shot at and assaulted the Keenans.
The Southern Poverty Law Center represented the couple, who was awarded $330,000 in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages.
It was not known where Butler would live after moving off the Aryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake.