From the October 1999 Idaho Observer:

Dees entourage descends upon Sandpoint

SANDPOINT -- Don Harkins, editor of The Idaho Observer had an appointment to pick up the file of Rex Prewitt from the office of Sandpoint Attorney Tevis Hull and, upon his arrival, found that Hull's office building was swarming with Sandpoint police.

Upon approaching the building, Harkins saw Church of Jesus Christ Christian / Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler going up the stairs to the office of his attorney Edgar Steele. Harkins found out later that the immense security precautions, which included at least four strategically positioned Sandpoint officers and two other men in sunglasses and plainclothes, were not necessarily due to the presence of Butler.

Southern Poverty Law Center Director Morris Dees was in town to take Butler's deposition in a civil assault case that he is prosecuting against the controversial church's aging leader. Steele, in turn, deposed Jason Keenan, one of the two alleged victims of the assault that Butler is being accused of somehow approving.

“I had planned a quiet deposition, did not alert the press and just wanted the parties to conduct their business and leave without disturbing anybody,” commented Steele.

Dees, who travels with an entourage and enjoys being quoted in newspapers as an authority on hate, apparently contacted the Bonner County Daily Bee which reciprocated by publicizing what could have been a quiet event that did not unnecessarily force taxpayers to provide the services of armed police protection for the himself.

Attorney John Topp, concerned that the presence of Dees and Butler may present a danger to himself and/or clients, closed his office for the day.

Dees, who stated for Life magazine that, “We are in the business of bankrupting bigots,” has chosen to prosecute Butler for thought crimes in an assault that he had not ordered, was not committed on his property and had not lifted a finger in participation (The Idaho Observer, August, 1999).

It would appear that Dees, who has steered his demonstrably anti-American, fear-mongering litigation machine into amassing somewhere between $40 million and $90 million in private funds, has chosen to spotlight Butler in a campaign that is a blatant attack against our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. “Dees has chosen to prosecute one of the most unpopular people in America to advance the cause of prosecuting people for 'thought crimes,'” observed Steele.

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