Bombs and Nazis

The FBI investigates a bomb left along the MLK parade route. Plus, a former Aryan Nations leader apologizes.

Bombs and MLK
Monday’s annual march through downtown Spokane to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was disrupted by a “suspicious device” found along the route. The FBI determined the bomb was “likely capable of inflicting multiple casualties.”

At the last minute, organizers re-routed the march through Riverfront Park in order to avoid the device. However, most of the estimated 1,500 people on hand seemed unaware of the change.

There is no word if organizers received any threats Monday. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, several city council members, County Commissioner Mark Richard, local university presidents and prominent African-American leaders were in the march.

The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information. Call the Seattle office, 206-622-0460.

Swastikas and MLK

It’s not quite the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” but on the weekend set aside to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Coeur d’Alene newspaper devoted its Sunday front page to a large photograph featuring swastikas and a letter from an avowed racist serving time in federal prison.

The big headline above it all: “I’m sorry.”

The letter, which the Coeur d’Alene Press received in December, was written by Zach Beck, who had been a lieutenant in the notorious Aryan Nation during the final years of founder Richard Butler’s life.

“It came out of the blue,” Press editor Mike Patrick says of the letter. “We thought really hard about what to do with it. … I wrote back to him and we began to correspond a little bit. I wanted, as well as I could, to believe it was sincere.”

After writing with Beck and an African-American friend of Beck’s who Patrick would not identify, Patrick says he made the decision to devote the Sunday front page to Beck’s own words with no qualifiers or explanation.

The Press had previously placed the Aryan Nation on its front page in a negative light, and Patrick says he thinks it appropriate to give Beck the same platform for his apparent turnaround.

“I wasn’t keen on serving up swastikas for Sunday breakfast for our readers, but I put it out there where everyone can see it,” Patrick says.

Beck writes, “I want to formally apologize for the image of hate that I helped bring upon this decent community. I could tell you I was ordered to do what I did and that I was young and dumb, manipulated and lied to, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was still me. … Hate is pointless … selfish, childish, and cowardly.

“I’m sorry.”

Patrick says he did not verify many specifics in the letter but after corresponding with Beck and the friend, he concludes the letter is sincere.

Beck, 31, is serving time in the federal prison at SeaTac. He was arrested a year ago after leading an attack on the lone black patron in a Longview, Wash., bar.

Evergreen State of Consciousness Five Year Anniversary @ Washington Cracker Co. Building

Sat., Jan. 28, 5 p.m.-1:45 a.m.
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About The Author

Kevin Taylor

Kevin Taylor is a staff writer for The Inlander. He has covered politics, the environment, police and the tribes, among many other things.