Aryan Nations plan possible move out of north Idaho

COEUR D'ALENE - The self proclaimed leader of the Aryan Nations based out of Athol, Idaho wants to move the white supremacist group out of North Idaho and in to Oregon.

Paul Mullet, has his sights set on the small town of John Day in Eastern Oregon.

"I think it's a good place for them to be honest with ya," said Lisa Smith.

Smith lives in Lewiston, Idaho, but is familiar with the Aryan Nations movement in North Idaho.

For several months now, Mullet has been trying to create a white only homeland in an attempt to continue Richard Butler's Neo-Nazi dream. Mullet says the Aryan Nations group recently looked at property in John Day. Mullet says property is affordable there, and they have even made a trip to the small town.

"I feel a sense of relief because this area needs a sort of cleansing in terms of an ideological type of shifting to welcoming diversity," says Rachel Dolezal with the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur D'Alene.

Dolezal says the news of a future move is a good thing for a community that's been scarred by its racist past.

"Just because they're relocating doesn't mean minds have been changed or that things are dissolving," says Dolezal.

Mullet says the plan is to build a compound in John Day where they can train and recruit members, but some people living in the Oregon community are up in arms. On Monday, dozens of people picketed in downtown, protesting the group's decision to move to the remote community.

"I certainly hope if they do relocate the community is equipped or if there's anyway we can support them to become equipped to prepare their citizens," said Dolezal. "

Mullet and a handful of followers have been living in Athol, using a white supremacist website, circulating fliers, and holding meetings as Neo-Nazi recruiting tools.

In November, Mullet sat down for an interview with KXLY4 News and talked about rebuilding an Aryan Nations compound in North Idaho along with plans to organize a parade in Hayden. Now Mullet claims the move is solely financial and that real estate is more affordable in Oregon.

As Mullet and an unknown number of members look to move west, those who are familiar with the group's history wish their neighbors all the best.

"It sucks for Oregon but I say let them leave, let them go do their own thing somewhere else," said Derek Miller who lives in Coeur D'Alene.

John Day Mayor Bob Quinton says with high unemployment and attempts to boost the local economy in John Day, having the Aryan Nations group move to town could have a negative impact.

A public meeting is scheduled for this Friday and a community protest is scheduled for Saturday in John Day, Oregon.