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Monday, October 04, 2004 - Page updated at 01:38 P.M.
Aryan Nations P.O. box moves to Alabama
After the Sept. 8 death of founder Richard Butler, the group's post office box has been moved from Hayden to a post office box in Lincoln, Ala., according to the group's Web site.
A four-member "leadership council" will be named to succeed Butler, a plan worked out at last summer's Aryan World Congress in northern Idaho, said Laslo Patterson, of Talladega, Ala., who holds the rank of "major" in the organization.
It is the first time in 30 years that Aryan Nations is not headquartered in the Idaho Panhandle.
"Our new post office box is not in your back yard anymore, but the Aryan Nations still is," said Jonathan Williams, Aryan Nations communications director in Atlanta.
Butler's suburban home in Hayden became the group's headquarters in 2000 after his 20-acre compound, built in the mid-1970s, was sold in a bankruptcy sale to partially satisfy a $6.3 million civil judgment.
Butler repeatedly vowed the Aryan Nations headquarters would never leave Idaho.
Patterson wouldn't say if he would be one of the four new leaders or if he was picking up the organization's mail at the post office in Lincoln, near his home.
Lincoln is only about 80 miles from Montgomery, Ala., home of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the human rights group whose lawsuit bankrupted Aryan Nations.
"There's no hidden agenda there," Patterson said when asked why Aryan Nations was so close to the SPLC. "I just think people in the southeast United States are more geared to the Christian Identity movement than elsewhere."
The Aryan Nations embraced a Christian Identity religious belief that white people are the true children of God, while Jews are descendants of Satan, and nonwhites are "mud people" without souls.
"Obviously, the future of Aryan Nations is still murky," said Mark Pitcavage, national fact-finding director for the Anti-Defamation League.
"It is still possible that Aryan Nations may limp along until someone with charisma and organizational abilities comes along to revive it," Pitcavage said, pointing to the revival of the World Church of the Creator under Matt Hale years after the suicide of its original leader.
"Aryan Nations is a powerful 'brand' in the white supremacist movement," Pitcavage said.
Moving the Aryan Nations headquarters to Lincoln, "gives a feeling for how weak the organization has become," said SLPC hate group expert Mark Potok. "At the same time, it should be noted that at the time of Butler's death, his faction had some 17 active chapters and more than 150 members."
"Unlike some, I do not believe Aryan Nations is anywhere near dead and buried," said Rick Eaton at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization in Los Angeles.
Butler was buried in a private ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 12, at a cemetery in Coeur d'Alene. A metal vase of plastic dogwood blossoms marked the spot last week. A headstone for the World War II veteran is being prepared by the U.S. government.
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