Posse leader joins Aryan World Congress

Annual World Congress expected to draw dozens to North Idaho

Spokane Spokesman-Review/July 15, 2000
By Bill Morlin

A leader of the Posse Comitatus -- a violence-preaching anti-government sect within the white supremacy movement -- is attending this weekend's Aryan World Congress.

August B. Kreis III, of Ulysses, Pa., is the scheduled lead-off speaker for today's events at the Aryan Nations compound north of Hayden Lake.

Kreis joined Aryan founder Richard Butler on Friday in greeting an expected 100 racists who began arriving for the three-day annual event.

After Kreis' speech, some of those attending the racist campout may motorcade to the City Park this afternoon for a rally, similar to one held last year.

The Aryan Nations World Congress 2000 official program lists a 1:30 p.m. rally, but Butler wouldn't say where it would be held.

A Ku Klux Klan-style cross burning is scheduled after sunset tonight as the 83-year-old Aryan founder carries his white supremacy message into the new millennium in North Idaho.

Law enforcement authorities are monitoring the event.

The annual July gathering, which Butler has hosted for two decades, offers a glimpse of new alliances being forged in the often-fractured racist movement.

The Aryan Nations-Posse Comitatus alliance is this year's pairing.

Kreis, 45, is attending the conference with his wife and child.

He said he joined Aryan Nations a week ago and plans to be the group's new Web master, designing and linking articles for the Aryans' Internet site. "Wake up, you white men," Kreis says on his Posse Comitatus Web site. "There's a bloody war to be fought, and it will be racial, religious and ideological."

Butler welcomed Kreis and said the racist movement is looking to the Internet to spread the "Aryan message."

"We will plant the seeds" for the continuation of the white race, Butler told reporters.

He was seated at a table draped with a German war flag, held down by a Bible and copy of Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

As Aryan Web master, Kreis replaces Jerry Gruidl, a longtime Butler confidant who reportedly left the Aryan Nations as a result of a recent internal feud.

With Gruidl gone, his outspoken foe, former Aryan staff leader Tim Bishop, returned from Kansas, and will be a featured speaker.

Posse Comitatus members consider themselves the armed, white Christian arm of the local sheriff.

Posse members are described by the Anti-Defamation League as "a loosely organized group of Christian Identity activists dedicated to survivalism, vigilantism and anti-government agitation."

Butler was an active member of Posse Comitatus when he moved to North Idaho in the mid-1970s from California.

The posse and Kreis' involvement have not gone unnoticed by civil rights watchdogs.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says posse leaders Kreis and James Wickstrom recently glorified fugitive Eric Robert Rudolph, wanted by the FBI for bombings at the Atlanta Olympics and at abortion clinics.

Wickstrom, who now lives in Texas, also has attended past Aryan gatherings.

He was convicted in 1991 in Pennsylvania of plotting to distribute $100,000 in counterfeit bills to white supremacists who attended the 1988 Aryan World Congress.

Over the years, Butler's allies in the racist movement have faded away as behind-the-scenes disputes and power struggles boiled.

Thom Robb, a national Ku Klux Klan leader from Arkansas, was a loyal participant in the 1980s, but no longer attends the Aryan gathering.

Tom Metzger, a Californian who heads White Aryan Resistance, also showed up for a time.

Harold von Braunhut, a millionaire racist from Maryland who wears a priest's collar, was a regular speaker in the early 1990s.

William Pierce, who heads the anti-Semitic National Alliance, has shown up.

In the past two years, Texas Klan leader Charles W. Lee and a half dozen of his KKK followers have been featured guests.

Last year, neo-Nazi Gerhardt Lauck, who heads the National Socialist German Workers Party, attended and joined Butler for the Aryan rally in the park.

None of them are on Butler's program this year, replaced by new faces from Texas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Sandpoint.

Vince Bertollini, whose 11th Hour Remnant Messenger organization was responsible for mailing posters and videos to thousands of North Idaho residents in 1998, is scheduled to speak.

Other speakers are Russell G. Thacker, of Anderson, Texas, and Neuman Britton, Butler's designated heir.

Thacker, a friend of former Aryan ambassador Louis Beam, also of Texas, claims he's for running for president on the "Deliverance Party" ticket. He urges everyone to buy a Ruger assault rifle and 9 mm pistol.

"Traitors still control our government," Thatcher says on his Web site.

Bertollini wasn't present Friday as Butler held a news conference, delivering the same anti-Jew, anti-black message he serves up every year.

Other former participants, including former Aryan security guards and members of a splinter group called The Order, are in prison.

Burford Furrow, who was an Aryan guard in 1995, now awaits trial in Los Angeles on charges of murder, attempted murder and hate crimes associated with a rampage last year.

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