Todd Wilkinson's article on neo-Nazis and skinheads (HCN, 6/27/94) resonates in Idaho. This past April, activists from the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) surfaced in Idaho Falls, twice distributing racist leaflets in residential areas of the city.
What is interesting about these events is the response of the city, population 45,000, which has tiny populations of minorities. Linda Milam, the mayor of Idaho Falls, branded the fliers "appalling and foolish," and revived a sleeping and confused city Human Relations Commission to organized activism in concert with over 500 people.
Because the WAR fliers targeted people of color, the city's Human Relations Commission used the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration to gather signatures and contributions for a full-page ad printed in the Idaho Falls Post-Register condemning the fliers. Additionally, a nongovernmental group called Eastern Idaho for Equality gathered signatures and contributions at the city's annual Earth Day celebration and also published a large ad in the Post-Register with a message of tolerance of diversity in culture and lifestyle.
It's a good thing these responses occurred, because the Aryan Resistance group has plenty of help from the outside in the form of organizing manuals, glossy, professional recruiting materials, a printing press, and a core group of eight composed of two locals and six WAR activists imported from San Francisco.
Idaho Falls, Idaho