H A Y D E N L A K E, Idaho, Sept. 22, 2000 -- In a blow to hate groups that havemade the Northwest their clubhouse, the founder of the AryanNations has agreed to give up his Idaho compound to satisfy a $6.3million verdict against the white supremacist organization.
Richard Butler wanted to avoid the spectacle of sheriff’s vansshowing up to seize the property, said Richard Cohen, a lawyer withthe Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.
Butler also agreed to no longer use the name Aryan Nations. Hewill deed the property to Victoria and Jason Keenan, who won thejury award after they were attacked outside the sect’s compound in1998.
“The Keenans will be able to do with the property what theywant,” Cohen said today.
Edgar Steele, who represented Butler during the trial, said thedeal 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 seizurenext Friday. Under the agreement reached Thursday, Butler willremain on the property until Oct. 25, one week after the expectedruling on a request for a new trial.
The Hitler-loving Aryan Nations moved to a ranch in the area inthe 1970s and declared it was creating a white homeland.
Butler moved to northern Idaho from California in 1973. He beganholding an annual event called the Aryan Nations Congress in 1981,attracting racist and anti-government groups from across thecountry.
A recent report by the Northwest Coalition for Human Dignityidentified 11 white supremacist groups in Idaho, 10 of them in thePanhandle, a region of beautiful lakes and forested mountains thatdraws thousands of tourists and retirees.
Earlier this month, a Kootenai County jury found Butler, aco-defendant, and the Aryan Nations negligent in hiring and trainingthe security guards who shot at and assaulted the Keenans.
The Southern Poverty Law Center represented the couple, who wasawarded $330,000 in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitivedamages.
It was not known where Butler would live after moving off theAryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake.