Grant Co. residents protest white supremacists

JOHN DAY — Grant County residents are rallying against the possibility that a white supremacist group may establish its base in John Day.

Paul R. Mullet, who described himself as the national director of the Aryan Nations, visited John Day in Eastern Oregon last week, telling people he was looking at property in the city for a possible national headquarters, Mayor Bob Quinton said.

On Monday, 60 to 70 people protested the supremacist group in a downtown rally, carrying signs with slogans such as "One Race: Human," "No to Aryan Nations!" and "Say No to Hate and Violence!"

"Most of the population is agreeing they will stand together on this," said Police Chief Richard Trico. "I am very happy with the community on the way they handled this."

Trico said Mullet, who wore a uniform shirt with a swastika patch, was accompanied during his visit by Leif Berlin, described as the group's Washington state leader, and Grant County residents Jacob Green of Mount Vernon and Christopher Cowan of John Day.

Mullet, of Athol, Idaho, added that Grant County, with its wide open spaces, would be ideal for both a headquarters and a site for a national gathering in September 2011, Quinton said.

Quinton expressed surprise that anyone in the county would be involved with the organization.

"If they've got a presence here, it's been pretty much under the radar," he told The Oregonian newspaper.

Two town hall meetings are planned Friday in nearby Canyon City. Speakers will include attorney Norman Gissell of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and retired professor Tony Stewart, who helped win a landmark judgment against the Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations in 2000.

Aryan Nations advocates claim Jews and nonwhites are enemies of white people and call for racial purity. The group wants to establish a homeland for the "Aryan race," where nonwhites would be prohibited.

Jerald O'Brien, an Idaho man who calls himself a spokesman for Aryan Nations, sent an e-mail to The Associated Press saying Mullet "is not with Aryan Nations," he has "no right to use the name," and that he is "a usurper."

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