It is said that there is power in numbers, but when an increasing number of injustices were committed in Hayden Lake, Idaho, it was a small group of concerned citizens that stunted the growth of an American Nazi movement. Three decades later, the story of the campaign for human rights that brought down the Aryan Nations--a once powerful organizing force that incorporated a white supremacist ideology with a frightening mix of anti-Semitism, racism, and Christianity--is now told in a one-hour documentary, The Color of Conscience. (To watch the full-length documentary, click here.) Director Jay Krajic (left) and producer Marcia Franklin pose with two of the founding members of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human relations,
Gettysburg, PA: When folks in Gettysburg, PA heard the Aryan Nations hate group was planning a rally on the very spot where Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous defense of American democracy, they knew they couldn't sit by in silence."Silence is the welcome mat for hate," notes Ann Van Dyke of Pennsylvania's Human Relations Commission, who has worked with almost two dozen communities throughout the state that were targeted by hate groups. The activist groups that formed in those towns are now part of the Pensylvania Network of Unity Coalitions, longtime members of the Not In Our Town family.In Gettysburg, the Adams Unity Coalition had just six weeks to prepare. They had limited resources. And they had to compete with almost a dozen other festivals taking place that same weekend.
What role does local media play in addressing intolerance and hate crime prevention? In the past few weeks, we’ve seen three stories where media coverage took very different positions on addressing controversy and sparking conversation about these issues.
Update: People in Grant County are taking swift action to make sure the Aryan Nations stay away from their community. In the midst of a packed forum sponsored by the local newspaper, community members began organizing a lime green ribbon campaign. Tony Stewart and Norm Gissel, leaders of the Kootenai County Human Rights Task Force shared their successful strategies for dealing with the neo-Nazis. Read more in the Blue Mountain Eagle. Grant County, OR: The Blue Mountain Eagle newspaper in John Day, Oregon, is sponsoring town hall forums this Friday, Feb. 26, to air community concerns about plans by the Aryan Nations to relocate its national headquarters to their small town. When they heard that the hate group's leader was shopping around town recently, looking to buy property for a new compound, store owners and residents poured into the streets to proclaim that the white supremacist organization is not welcome in this community.
By Kirthi Nath Baltimore, MD: On August 18, 2009, 76-year-old Baltimore resident James Privott was brutally attacked by three men while fishing with his wife at Fort Armistead Park. As the couple was packing up their fishing gear, three men assaulted James Privott with a sledgehammer and a bat while shouting racial slurs, including the N-word, and then stole his money and car and fled the scene. As word spread about the attack, local residents flooded the police lines with anonymous tips and emails that ultimately helped the police capture the suspects. The three assailants, 28-year-old Carl Lockner, a registered sex offender and self proclaimed member of the Aryan Nations; 16-year-old Emmanuel Miller and 17-year-old Zachary Watson, will be charged with first degree assault and armed robbery. Lockner, who stated that the attack “wouldn’t have happened if he [Privott] was a white man,” will also be tried under state hate crime laws.
How Ordinary Citizens of Northern Idaho Defeated the Aryan Nations By Tony Stewart and Norm Gissel, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations In the 1950’s a small group of religious leaders, fed up with Jim Crow racism, started the modern civil rights movement. They demanded that the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the 14th Amendment, declaring equal protection under the law to all citizens, finally be enforced. The vast majority of Americans agreed. What followed was a sea change in the cultural and political life of America. Millions of Americans were recognized for the first time as full members of our great country, and almost overnight, civil rights, formerly a fringe concern, became a mainstream one of most Americans. But as history has shown us, in a democracy, great cultural and political changes do not occur without a large array of opponents.
Press Conference Address from Tony Stewart, Kootenai County Task Force…Editor’s Note: Several weeks ago, Aryan Nations members left recruitment materials and racist pamphlets in neighborhoods in the Inland Northwest area of Washington and Idaho. In response, law enforcement, civic and community leaders from throughout the region held a press conference to speak out against racism and stand together against intolerance. Press Conference Address from Tony Stewart, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations “As we meet here today, our Inland Northwest communities are once again experiencing the distribution of unwanted, vile hate materials. In recent weeks, there have also been incidents of harassment and violence directed at citizens in both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Today’s gathering of the Inland Northwest city mayors and law enforcement officials sends a powerful united voice that we reject the hate and will aggressively prosecute hate crimes. A neo-Nazi, who recently relocated to the Inland Northwest, stated he would re-establish the Aryan Nations in the only part of the United States that would welcome and support the movement.