- Group Name: Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations
- Location: Coeur d'Alene, ID
- Links: www.idahohumanrights.org
- Origin: We formed in 1981 to counter the activities of the Aryan Nations.
- Membership: 100+ members
- Structure of group: We are registered with the state of Idaho as a non-profit organization, and have a 21-member board of directors, with an executive committee consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. We also have standing committees comprised of board members. There is an annual meeting of the organization's membership that elects the board of directors.
- Regular meetings: The first Monday of each month.
Activities, Challenges & Lesssons Learned
The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations works to combat harassment and hate crimes through our support of victims. We also serve as advisers to other communities in the Northwest and beyond that are challenged by hate group activities or crimes. We are proactive in promoting state and federal laws addressing human rights issues, and coordinate a number of educational programs and community events to advance human rights. Every year we co-sponsor a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Children’s Human Rights Week in the Kootenai County Public Schools. We also hold an annual gala event on the third Monday of January honoring the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday, and host a booth at the annual North Idaho Fair that draws about 75,000 people.
We are constantly working to reduce prejudice and bigotry directed at individuals who are either minorities in the community or discriminated against because of their perceived differences from the majority community.
Early on, we adopted a policy of organizing counter events during hate group activities such as the Aryan World Congress and the Aryans’ marches, and have found this strategy successful. We never engaged the Aryan Nations directly and always were proactive rather than reactive or confrontational, and as a result have drawn a broad base of supporters of our work.
In 2000, our task force joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center of Alabama in winning a $6.3 million civil judgment against the Aryan Nations for victims Victoria and Jason Keenan. This case bankrupted the Aryan Nations and they were forced to turn over their notorious compound, “The Campus of Hate,” to the Keenans. Idaho native Greg Carr later bought and destroyed the compound to rebuild it as the Peace Park.
The Aryan Nation is no longer a viable organization with resources in the Pacific Northwest.
We have a sister organization called the Human Rights Education Institute. Other allies that we work with are law enforcement, prosecutors, colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest, and regional religious associations. As a member of Greater Coeur d’ Alene Chamber of Commerce, we also engage with the business community.