How do you stop people from hating others? Idaho, especially Northern Idaho, has a bad reputation of racism due to the hate group Aryan Nations calling this their home. Negative propaganda and hate campaigns have come and gone within the community of Coeur d'Alene and have painted the citizens of our city in a negative light, folks from around the country have been given the perception that they aren't welcome here and that the people of our area are hateful racist degenerates.
This article is about those who have hurt our community though hate, and those who have healed it with love.
Recently small pockets of hate have begun to emerge yet again in our area. There is a counter movement rising to meet it and show the rest of the country that these views are not the stance of our community. We are inspired by the Love Lives Here CDA campaign and will tell you how we can all do our part to stand together with other citizens that value love and acceptance above all.
A History of Hate in North Idaho
In the early 1970s a group known as the Aryan Nations were founded in Northern Idaho casting a shroud of hate that stained our community for the last half a decade.
“Aryans are Nordic in their blood......North Idaho is a natural place for the white man to live.” -Richard Butler
Richard Butler purchased land and began construction of his compound in 1973. The Church of Jesus Christ Christian was founded 4 years later by Butler along with the creation of the Aryan Nations.
Butler continued to grow his following creating a philosophy of religious racism called Christian Identity.
“In simplest terms,” writes Bill Morlin at Boise State University’s The Blue Review, “Christian Identity believers are convinced that the Bible tells them white people of Northern European ancestry are God’s chosen — direct descendants of Adam and the ‘true Jews.’”
Groups of people from around the country united by hate flocked to Hayden Lake, Idaho to join the movement Butler started. The group grew quietly over time, keeping mostly to themselves as members of white nationalists joined. Butler even began recruiting local farmers who were struggling though an agricultural crisis by offering land in exchange of participation in his movment.
More then 100 members a year came into the area to join the hate group, sparking other extremist groups, one was known as The Order, they were the most infamous.
The hate spread through groups like The Order, who were eventually charged by a federal judge in the 80's for assassinations, bombings, and bank robberies until the leader of The Order was killed in a shootout with FBI agents years later in Whidbey Island, Washington.
The Order's actions were never linked directly to Butler, but he used the press and exposure to rally more to his cause. By the late 90's the group had grown so much that Butler became more forward with his hate campaign, formally deciding to arrange a march though the streets of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
The Past: Hate Rising and Love to Combat It
When the Aryan Nation's first announced they would be hosting a parade to spread their message through Coeur d'Alene a group of citizens were quick to respond. Founded in 1981, The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations (K.C.T.F.H.R) was a group that continually opposed the spread of hate throughout our community.
Butler “finally made the decision that he wanted to march on the streets of Coeur d’Alene. And it caused a tremendous uproar.” Tony Stewart, Director of K.C.T.F.H.R
The K.C.T.F.H.R started fundraisers in response to the march and tried to oppose these parades. The law was on Butler's side so the marches were allowed to happen.
These marches drew even more to the Aryan Nation's cause. The media attention on the hate Butler was spreading brought racism out of the woodworks in other communities throughout the country sparking several more groups nation wide, and encouraging Ku Klux Klan groups in their efforts.
Locally the K.C.T.F.H.R continued to opposed the Aryan Nations at every turn. When a mother and her son were shot at, run off the road, and threatened to be killed by Aryan Nation security guards they reached out to the human rights task force. The K.C.T.F.H.R put their attorney, Norm Gissel, on the case and after a joint legal battle the jury awarded $6.3 Million to the victims. This bankrupted the Aryan Nations, causing them to sell their compound which is now a peace park owned by the North Idaho College Foundation.
Our community has a history of being misrepresented by hateful groups of people, but we also have a history of members of our community rising up against the hate and representing the love we all share. Now it's happening again, and love still lives here in Coeur d'Alene.
The Present: Hate Fails Against Love
On October 10th, 2019 leaflets rallying the cause of white supremacy and linking to several sites that glorify the founding member of aforementioned "The Order" began popping up around Coeur d'Alene. Stuffed in mailboxes and in certain businesses the spread of the literature felt all too familiar to a community who has had to fight racism of this nature before. Eight days after this incident the Love Lives Here CDA campaign was formed.
“This is the time to fight yet another instance of hate trying to get back into the spotlight in our community. To me, there’s no better time to start Love Lives Here than right now.” said Laura Tenneson to the Coeur d'Alene Press.
Since this love campaign has been launched it's received an awe inspiring amount of community support. 25 businesses within the first week joined the campaign. At launch Love Lives Here CDA declared they are a non-partisan, local grassroots community group started by a small group of concerned citizens. In addition to stickers to put on display the group has created rapid response guides for citizens to follow in the case there's another hate incident.
Online backlash and an uptick in more materials being spread around has not slowed the Love Lives Here CDA movement More and more local businesses and individuals join the cause every day. It's become a true movement of love, while conceived out of reaction to hate the love has grown to be a badge of honor for our community and a way to show that we, together, stand for peace and acceptance of all.
Bands, restaurants, businesses, churches, coffee shops, and more have joined the cause and partnered with this love campaign. More join every week, for the individuals in this community it has become a way to show our pride and is spreading quickly.
The launch event for LLCDA is happening December 10th, more information to come but to keep up to date with this love campaign follow them on social media:
Thank you for reading about something that is very important to us as a company and to myself as a Coeur d'Alene local.
Owner Pulse Productions