The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations has been around nearly 40 years and was instrumental in the expulsion of the Aryan Nations from Hayden Lake.
The organization was founded in 1981 in response to Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler and his associates targeting a Jewish-run restaurant in Hayden Lake. A group of fifteen citizens told Sid Rosen, the restaurant owner, they wouldn’t sit idly by as organized bigotry was carried out in the community.
Almost two decades later, it would be the task force that played a key role in the trial that brought the hate group to its knees.
As part of "Legacy of Hate," our series examining white supremacy in the Gem State, we sat down with two of the task force’s founders and longtime leaders, Tony Stewart and Norm Gissel, and the organization’s current president, Christie Wood.
In our extended interview, the trio discusses the founding of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, how the group battled not only the Aryan Nations but other acts of bigotry in north Idaho and the evolving mission of the organization after Butler and his acolytes retreated.
Tony Stewart and Norm Gissel will be at Boise State University October 26 sharing lessons learned from battling the Aryan Nations and strategies for grassroots organizing.
This story is part of KBSX's news series "Legacy Of Hate."
For more local news, follow the KBSX newsroom on Twitter @KBSX915
Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio