Idaho community

‘We will never be silent’: North Idaho community prepares for Aryan Freedom Network rally

HAYDEN LAKE, Idaho – More than two decades after Aryan Nations went bankrupt and finally left northern Idaho, a new group is targeting the area.

The Aryan Freedom Network announced that it would hold a rally in March in Hayden Lake. Not much is known about the band, exact time or location. Either way, it’s enough for Jeanette Laster, executive director of the Institute for Human Rights Education, to worry.

“It is alarming that this ideology could potentially seep into our region,” she said. “They could be potential buyers. They can shop in our restaurants, they can go to our stores, and there could be issues of discrimination and inclusion.

Laster explained on the band’s website that he says they choose northern Idaho because of its history. The group promotes the same neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology.

“What this means for our citizens is a place of welcome, kindness and inclusion when it is against their ideology,” Laster said.

Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Human Relations Task Force explained that their organization is currently investigating.

“We have to make sure they execute what they say they’re going to do,” he said. “We’re also trying to find out where their property is, not confronting them, but we’ve been working on this for a long time and want to make sure we know all the facts.”

Stewart is also a founding member of the organization. He opposed the Aryan nations when they were in Idaho.

“It’s something we’ve been through for many years, and we certainly know how to deal with hate groups, hate crimes or hate messages,” Stewart said. “I think the better term than frustrated is determined. We will certainly always talk, we will never remain silent.

The Institute for Human Rights Education is planning a community conversation the same weekend with speakers who were former white supremacists in Coeur d’Alene. More details to come.