Butler rebuts charges

Spokane Spokesman Review/September 6, 2000
By Bill Morlin

He denies knowledge of violent acts, plots Coeur d'Alene _ Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler told a jury Tuesday that he wasn't involved in a plot to firebomb property owned by a North Idaho civil rights activist who is Jewish.

Butler's testimony rebutted that of ex-Aryan Charles Hardman, who told the jury he built a Molotov cocktail intended for the attack after getting a Coke bottle from the Aryan leader.

Defense attorney Edgar Steele asked Butler if he was involved in a plot in 1998 to firebomb property owned by Marshall Mend. "That's absolutely untrue," Butler responded.

The 82-year-old Aryan leader said he believes Hardman was lying in his testimony.

"I've never advocated a Molotov cocktail for anybody," Butler testified. And he said he doesn't drink Coke.

Hardman, a fugitive from Georgia, was evicted from his temporary living quarters at the Aryan Nations after it was disclosed he was harboring a runaway girl.

"He was a very out-of-control individual, so that's why we threw him out," Butler said.

Butler, testifying in his defense in a civil suit, said the Aryan Nations operates on donations that total $70,000 to $80,000 a year.

Butler said the Aryan Nations spends $600 to $700 a month on postage and others costs associated with maintenance and the publication of books. That testimony may be the first time Butler has publicly disclosed any detailed financial information about his 25-year-old Aryan Nations operation.

Butler said he doesn't have a security force at his compound north of Hayden Lake. "We don't have any security, period," Butler said, "especially outside the property."

Volunteers who perform security work are merely making sure windows and doors are locked, and looking for fire hazards, Butler said.

"We've never had a security force," he said. "I think I perform as much of it as anybody, as any homeowner would."

Butler said he does appoint volunteers to security duties during the annual Aryan World Congress. "They're not security, but ticket takers," he said.

"In truth, probably you can equate it to children playing," Butler said of his followers who call themselves security guards.

The issue of security guards is important because the plaintiffs' attorneys attempted to show that Butler and Michael Teague are responsible for the appointment of security guards Jesse Warfield, John Yeager and Shane Wright.

The guards are accused of chasing down and shooting at a car driven by plaintiffs Victoria and Jason Keenan.

Warfield was named chief of security in March 1998, but that appointment was only for the July 1998 parade in Coeur d'Alene, Teague testified Tuesday. Teague served as staff director for the Aryan Nations.

"Everybody likes a title, to be something in the world," Butler said of the appointments at Aryan Nations. "It's more like play-acting." He also told the jury he doesn't condone violence, but does honor racists who have committed crimes on behalf of the white race.

Butler told the jury he didn't learn about the July 1, 1998, assault on the Keenans by three Aryan guards until several days after it occurred. He didn't call the Sheriff's Department then, Butler testified, because he didn't believe there was an investigation under way into the shooting.

The plaintiffs' attorneys, including a team from the Southern Poverty Law Center, are hoping to recover substantial damages for the Keenans. Steele said he wanted to call Michael McNabb, Chris Temple, Robert Gmeiner, Richard Masker and Christian Teague to testify on Butler's behalf.

But attorney Morris Dees objected, saying those names weren't on Steele's list of defense witnesses prior to trial. That local court rule allows the opposing side to take depositions from witnesses before a trial.

"The fact he (Steele) failed to do the job a defense attorney is supposed to do ... is highly irregular," Dees said.

"I'm insulted by that, quite frankly," Steele shot back.

The judge said witnesses whose names haven't been provided to the other side couldn't testify. But he left open the possibility that two of the witnesses could be called today.

In his testimony, Butler sought to downplay the image of his Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations.

He said a tall tower where armed Aryan guards are frequently photographed is a watch tower, not a guard tower.

He said his property isn't a compound, but church grounds. And Butler said the Aryan Nations, with its outreach program for prison inmates, is "sort of like a church way house."

Plaintiffs' attorney Richard Cohen asked Butler why he refers to black people as "beasts of the field." Butler said that's a biblical reference.

Cohen asked Butler if the goal of his writings is to "blow on the embers and make your followers passions red hot." He asked Butler whether he urged his followers to take up weapons in pursuit of their racial cause. Butler said his goal is to inspire his followers.

Steele later asked his client if he's ever advocated violence. "I advocated the preservation of the white race, whatever it takes to preserve it," Butler said.

His publications are sent to prisoners and many travel to his headquarters when they get out, Butler said.

"They come to see what we're all about, whether we have horns or not," he said. Many who show up feel "dispossessed" from their lives in large multi-cultural communities, Butler told the jury.

"The white race is the most endangered species on the face of the Earth," he said, telling the jury that whites make up only 6 percent of the world's population.

From those views, he explained, comes his Christian Identity religious belief that the white race is a nation. "We are to be separate from all other people," Butler explained, quoting the Bible.

He said white people are the only race on Earth without a national state since the collapse of Hitler's Germany in May 1945.

"Have you or the church ever supplied weapons to a security force?" Steele asked Butler.

"No, we don't do that," Butler responded.

Steele then wanted to know if people acting as volunteer guards ever carry weapons at Aryan Nations. "Each man should have his own personal weapon of choice," Butler responded.

He said a person has "the right to use violence in the preservation of life."

Steele asked whether Warfield was acting security director at the time of the Keenan assault on July 1, 1998.

"He probably was acting in his own mind, yes," Butler said. "If you have five people there and one says, `I'm acting chief of security,' I guess that's so."

Butler said he didn't know Warfield, Yeager and other Aryan guards were drinking beer on the compound before the Keenan assault.

"I'm totally opposed to alcohol," Butler said. He said he tells his followers that they "cannot spread the word of God in the bar."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.