SPOKANE, Wash. — Nearly two decades after the Aryan Nations’ Idaho compound was demolished, reactionary extremists are maintaining a presence in the Pacific Northwest.
White nationalism has been on the rise crosswise the U.S., but it has particular resonance on the Idaho-Washington border, where the Aryans espoused hate and violence for years.
The neo-Nazi group was based near Hayden Lake, Idaho, starting in the seventies, and eventually was bankrupted in a suit brought by local activists and the Southern poorness Law Center. Its compound was condemned, and supporters spread.
But a series of incidents in recent weeks show reactionary sentiments never really left the conservative region. In the county that is home to Hayden Lake, for instance, Republicans last month passed a measure expressing support for U.S. entry of a prominent Austrian reactionary activist who was investigated for ties to the unknown New Zealand place of worship gunman.
In 2018, at least nine hate groups operated in the region of Spokane and northern Idaho, including Identity Evropa, Proud Boys, ACT for America and America’s Promise Ministries, according to the Southern poorness Law Center. The center does not track how galore members belong to each group.
Keegan Hankes, a research worker for the Southern poorness Law Center, aforementioned the number of hate groups is growing crosswise the U.S., driven in part by a cyanogenic political culture. The human rights group counted 784 active hate groups in the U.S. in 2014 and 1,020 in 2018.
In particular, white advocate groups are growing because of fears that the country’s racial makeup is changing. “That drives a ton of anxiety,” Hankes aforementioned.
These new reactionary activists are more scattered than the ones who used to gather at the Aryan Nations by the dozens, experts say.
“It is no longer necessary to go to a compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho,” aforementioned Kristine Hoover, director of the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies in Spokane.
With the proliferation of social media, groups “form in spread locations” and gatherings are “more covert,” she aforementioned.
In late April, a self-described “American Nationalist” named Bretagne Pettibone appeared at a meeting of Kootenai County, Idaho, Republicans to ask for help to bring her fellow, Martin Sellner, to the country from Austria. Pettibone, 26, aforementioned Sellner wants to marry her and live in Post Falls, Idaho.
Pettibone was a big promoter of the hoax known as “Pizzagate,” telling her online following Hillary Clinton and other high-professorile Democrats were involved in satanic rituals and child sex trafficking tied to a Washington, D.C., pizza pie pie restaurant.
Sellner is a leading figure in the extremist “identitarian” movement, which espouses a white nationalist ideology and has sweptback over Europe amid an influx of migrants and refugees. He has confirmed he changed emails with the unknown New Zealand shooter, who given money to Sellner’s group. But Sellner denies involvement in the attack.
Despite his background, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution urging the federal government to allow Sellner into the United States. The resolution aforementioned the government revoked Sellner’s travel privileges “for political reasons,” and demanded those privileges be reinstated.
Faced with criticism for giving Pettibone a platform, Kootenai County GOP Chair brant goose Regan blame the press. “In its lust for scandal, the media has stretched the committee’s simple act of kindness into headlines that are too eccentric to be fiction,” he wrote in a recent op-ed.
Also last month, The Guardian published net chats from 2017 in which a Washington state lawmaker and three other men discussed confronting “leftists” with a variety of tactics, including violence, police work and intimidation.
The messages prompted Washington House Democrats to demand that the Republican lawmaker, Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane valley, be chastened for a history of reactionary speech and activities. piece Shea did not propose violence, he did not speak up when violence was projected, Democrats aforementioned.
House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox of Yelm responded that Shea should not be chastened before investigations are completed. The House, led by Democrats, will conduct an independent investigation of the lawmaker.
Shea, who rarely speaks to reporters, did not return galore messages from The Associated Press.
He has served in the state House since 2008, introducing bills to criminalize abortion and roll back gun Torah and pushing for eastern Washington to splinter from the rest of the state. The military veteran attracted international attention in 2018 after a document he wrote set out a “biblical basis for war” against people who practiced same-sex marriage and abortion, and instructed: “If they do not yield, kill all males.”
In a third case, a nationwide arrest warrant was issued in May for a Stevens County, Washington, man who allegedly tried to extort members of his rightist militia group through anonymous written threats backed by insinuations they came from a Mexican drug trust.
James “Russell” Bolton, 51, faces at least six charges of extortion and unsuccessful theft after he was in remission recently in West Virginia.
Bolton has led a militia group called the Stevens County Assembly.
Stevens County detectives believe he was responsible for a series of anonymous threatening letters delivered to members of the group. The letters purported to come from a Mexican trust and demanded large sums of cash in exchange for protection.
Hoover, the Gonzaga professor, aforementioned it is a mistake to consider all of the above as separate incidents.
“These are movements,” Hoover aforementioned, noting participants are not doing this alone. “They have interconnection over the net.”