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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/idaho/idaho.042094


Archive/File: orgs/american/idaho idaho.042094
Last-Modified: 1994/04/22

Article: 62143 of soc.culture.jewish
From: Dan Yurman 
Newsgroups: soc.culture.jewish
Date: 20 Apr 94 21:40 PDT
Subject: Re: White Supremacists in Idaho Falls
Message-ID: <1473600088@cdp>
References: <1473600086@cdp>
Sender: Notesfile to Usenet Gateway 
Lines: 108

From: Dan Yurman 

/* Written  9:39 pm  Apr 20, 1994 by dyurman@igc.apc.org in igc:gen.right */
/* ---------- "White Supremacists in Idaho Falls" ---------- */
City Commission Holds Hearing on Racist Leaflets
 
     Idaho Falls, Idaho - 4/20/94 - The Idaho Falls Cultural Awareness
and Human Relations Committee held a hearing this evening on racist
leaflets distributed in the city last week.  Commission Chairman and
former long-time city council member Wes Deist said the purpose of the
hearing was to gain community input for a response to the flyers.  The
flyers, titled, "A Challenge to White People," asked white people to
look out for white interests and listed a series of grievances against
minorities.
 
     Deist said the most significant concern the commission had was
whether there was any relationship between the anti-minority leaflets
and gang activity in the city.  He asked if there had been any graffiti
such as swastikas.  Idaho Falls Police Officer Mark Burnell told the
commission that these are two separate spheres of activity and that he
did not know of any link between them.  Burnell said that most problems
with juveniles and race related-incidents involve "disenfranchised
kids," but that they were not affiliated in Idaho Falls at this time
with any groups like White Aryan Resistance (WAR).  Burnell said there
had not been any reports of neo-Nazi graffiti in Idaho Falls.
 
     Due to the number of calls police received about the flyers, and
the violent history of WAR, Burnell said that police visited the home of
the people who had printed and distributed them to assess the situation.
Last Sunday the Idaho Falls Post Register identified the owners of a
post office box rented March 31st listed on the flyers as Jessie M.
Olson and his wife JoAnn Archibald Olson.
 
     Burnell said the Olsons are in their late 20s and have five or six
other supporters in the city.  One has a printing press which is how the
flyers were made.  He described the Olson's as "very active politically,
very firm in their beliefs," but he emphasized that no crime has been
committed.  He said the Olsons acknowledged being "loosely affiliated"
with the White Aryan Resistance.  Burnell said that Jessie Olson is a
native of Idaho Falls, but had left the city after graduating from high
school and worked in San Francisco for a period of time.  The other WAR
supporters now in Idaho Falls are all from the San Francisco area.
 
     The Olson's reportedly said their purpose in circulating the flyers
was to set up a recruiting drive.  Interestingly, the Olsons volunteered
to Idaho Falls police that they had themselves been subjected to hate
mail and showed Burnell several letters sent to the PO Box expressing
negative messages about their flyers.  
 
     Questions were asked of Burnell by the audience which numbered
about 75 people.  One speaker wanted to know if the high schools had
been targeted by WAR.  Burnell said that this was the trend in other
cities -- to recruit alienated youths.  A student from Hillcrest High
School in Ammon, a bedroom community of 5,000 east of Idaho Falls, said
that flyers had shown up at the school yesterday.  The student, who is
Hispanic, said the appearance of the flyers raised racial tensions in
the school.
 
     Another speaker pointed out that the appearance of flyers often
precedes more aggressive tactics by hate groups.  Burnell confirmed that
the Olsons' had access to "very impressive national resources" including
a "How To" book produced by the national office of WAR which explained
tactics to be used to build a local organization.  He said some of the
literature from WAR at the Olsons' home was "very polished."  Some
speakers mentioned that violent incidents occuring in Billings, MT, had
been preceeded by the distribution of the same kinds of leaflets.  Idaho
Falls Police Chief Monty Montague said that now that communication has
been established and that they, the Olsons, have been identified, he
hoped that this will give the city some indications if the situation
changes from peaceful political activity.
 
     Police said that they are sensitive to the fact that even though
the WAR group has publicized views which as "distasteful" to many, it is
not their job to make distinctions about people's belief systems as long
as there is no evidence that a crime has been committed or planned.
 
     Larry Carlson, a current member of the city council, expressed
concern that the Human Rights Commission does not have any visibility in
the city.  He urged them to change that.  One speaker suggested the
Commission try to get more television coverage since that's how most
people get their news.  Interestingly enough, all three TV stations in
the region had coverage of tonight's meeting.  Other speakers who asked
the commission to act included the president of the Idaho Falls Chamber
of Commerce and the chairman of the Bonneville County Republican Party.
 
     Suggestions from speakers for organizing a response to the flyers
drew a mixture of ideas.  Speakers representing an organization called
Eastern Idaho for Equality suggested a candlelight vigil.  She also said
everyone should blow their car horns for 30 seconds at noon.  Another
idea from that group was for special programs in the schools to reach
youth.  A third speaker wants the local newspaper to print rainbows so
that people can put them in their windows with the message being that
hate is not tolerated in a home displaying the rainbow.
 
     All speakers said that an immediate response was necessary and
urged the commission not to delay.  The last speaker said that a novel
way to deal with the WAR affiliated group was to "love them to death."
He said that if everyone sent the Olsons cookies and valentines every
day that, "they'd decide the whole town was weird, pick up, and move
on."
 
END
 
------------------------------------------------------------
Dan Yurman            | dyurman@igc.apc.org | Hailing. . . .
PO Box 1569           | ------------------- | Frequencies. .
Idaho Falls, ID 83403 |   43N 112W -7 GMT   | Are Open . . .
 



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