Thursday, November 3, 2005
August 20, 2005
The Port of Cascade Locks is admittedly nervous about allowing a white supremacist rally today in the industrial park.
However, Chuck Daughtry, port director, said it would be unethical for the public agency not to treat all clients equally. He said the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution protects free speech and the lawful expression of this right — even if it is unpopular with the mainstream population.
“We certainly don’t condone the opinions of this group, or any other group, which reserves port property,” said Daughtry.
Resident Richard Randall, the founder of Cascade Locks No-Casino, expressed “outrage” over the town hosting an Aryan Nation convention. The event, which could draw as many as 200 people, has been moved from Port Marine Park to avoid a potential conflict with a traditional Hispanic Quinceanera — a girl’s 15th birthday party — that same day. The port also did not want the rally in close proximity to tribal fishing grounds.
“This is wrong and they should have flat out said ‘no.’ The port should have come forward and said we made a mistake, but they are not big enough to do that,” said Randall.
Daughtry issued a terse reply to Randall’s statement — and the fact that he had notified newspaper and television sources to focus attention on the rally.
“We’re extremely disappointed with the reckless behavior of the No Casino group. By making this a high profile media event it greatly increases the chance there could be a negative outcome and more of a chance of violence this weekend. I believe No Casino did this for their own political gain and without any regard for the safety of the community — they should be ashamed,” said Daughtry.
He said the port was not given a full briefing on the fund-raiser program when approached by Randal Krager from Afrikaner Charities in early August. He remembers only being informed that the event was intended to raise money for poor farmers in South Africa. He and other staffers learned later that these dollars would be given only to “displaced and persecuted whites.” But, by that time, a contract had been signed.
After in-depth research into Krager’s background, Daughtry also began to suspect that the event from 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday was actually Aryan Fest 2005.
Krager is the founder of Volksfront, the group which has advertised the fund-raiser as part of the festival.
Krager was unable to be reached for comment about the connection between Volksfront and the Cascade Locks gathering.
Daughtry was told by an undisclosed source that, because of its controversial nature, two locations are often booked at the same time for Aryan Fest.
One is intended to serve as a backup in case of problems from the community and/or the police with the primary site.
He is unsure whether Cascade Locks will be home to the festival or has only been reserved as an alternative meeting place.
An Internet search revealed that Krager was once imprisoned for a vicious attack upon a black man. He founded Volksfront in 1994 with the philosophy that education and other nonviolent means should be used to elevate the white race.
This week Daughtry and Mayor Ralph Hesgard walked along WaNaPa Street to alert businesses about Saturday’s controversial guests. He wanted city residents to be fully informed about the nature of the fund-raiser taking place at the eastern end of the city. If the gathering is Aryan Fest, the keynote speaker advertised by Volksfront is Edgar J. Steele, an antisemitic author and attorney from Northern Idaho.
Aryan Fest also includes a moment of remembrance for Rudolf Hess, a high-ranking Nazi officer under Adolf Hitler. Following World War II, Hess was convicted of crimes against humanity by an international military tribunal and sentenced to life in Germany’s Spandau prison. He died in 1987 at the age of 93 in a hanging that is believed by some to be a suicide and by others to be murder.
Daughtry said Krager has been cooperative about accommodating the port’s concerns. He agreed to the rally being moved to a more remote area and not having port staffers man the no-host bar as usual.
“We are more than willing to find an amicable solution to any problems you might have, we simply wish to have a private and peaceful event with as little impact to anyone as possible,” wrote Krager in an e-mail to Daughtery.
He concluded that message by saying, “Although the perception of our event may be negative, we are indeed hosting this event to raise funds for displaced and homeless Afrikaner farmers who have been raped, murdered, abused, extorted and evicted from their homes.
I hope the perception and stereotypes of our event does not hinder our ability to peacefully assemble and speak in a private setting.”
Numerous musicians are also scheduled to appear and Daughtry said the loud amplification of music also factored into the relocation of the group.
According to Volksfront, the heavy-metal bands featured in Aryan Fest include Blood in the Face; Platoon 14; Red, White and Black; Criminal Culture; Frontline and Avalon.
Daughtry has conferred with Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler to ensure that an adequate law enforcement presence is available to prevent problems.
“Our primary concern has been the safety of our community and our employees. We’ve taken all of the precautions that we can to fulfill our role as a public agency,” he said.
Wampler will have more deputies on patrol this weekend for extra surveillance of the site. Inter-tribal Fisheries Enforcement, the Oregon State Police and U.S. Forest Service have also been asked to lend assistance, although the sheriff does not anticipate any problems.
“In order for things like this not to get out of hand we let all parties know that we’re around. Because of what these folks represent, and this being a multicultural community, I think we need to be very visible,” Wampler said.
Randall said it is ironic that local citizens are being asked to protect the First Amendment rights of white supremacists.
He said No Casino was strongly criticized by Cascade Locks officials for even posting historical accounts of Native American conflicts on its Web site.
“The main fact that really bothers me is that they said I was giving the town a bad name — well, what the hell is this?” asked Randall.
In May, Randall was sharply rebuked by city and Warm Springs officials for the headline of the controversial Internet posting, which read, “Original reason Indians were removed (from Gorge).”
The text contained diary excerpts of the battle between the Yakama tribe and both soldiers and settlers. In that documentation, Native Americans were referred to as “hostiles” who needed to “learn to respect the United States government.”
Randall was blasted for using racism to fight a casino proposal by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
He subsequently explained the information had been taken from a history book and was not previewed prior to its posting.
Randall said his only intent was only to provide background on the era when the Gorge tribes ceded their lands to the federal government.
Daughtry said the criticism for Randall’s posting was not levied by the port, which refrained from comment on the issue.