Rebecca Kushner-Metteer had no idea what she was getting into.
On Aug. 31, she and a group of her south Kalispell neighbors distributed flyers on their street calling attention to the Gaedes, a family that had moved into the new subdivision. April Gaede and her twin 14-year-old daughters, Lamb and Lynx, had been the subject of a recently aired feature on ABC’s newsmagazine “Primetime.” April is a member of National Vanguard, a group that advocates against race mixing and for white separatism. Her daughters’ band, Prussian Blue, sings songs glorifying Nazis and National Vanguard politics.
The flyers Kushner-Metteer and her neighbors passed out read “NO HATE HERE” on the front, with a letter on the back explaining the Gaedes’ politics. Local media covered the event, and since then, Kushner-Metteer and other families say they have gotten a frightening response.
Postings by members of Stormfront.org and Libertyforum.com, community sites for those who share beliefs similar to National Vanguard’s, included addresses and phone numbers for Kushner-Metteer and others involved in passing out the flyers. The sites also posted a photograph of a mother and her daughter, published by the Daily Inter Lake, as they distributed the flyers.
The information posted for Kushner-Metteer, though, is wrong. It turns out to be that of an elderly couple living in Kalispell whose last name happens to be Metteer. That couple, according Kalispell Police Chief Frank Garner, has received threatening letters and phone calls meant for Kushner-Metteer.
Kushner-Metteer says police shared one letter with her that reads, “Red-blooded, white, American men are going to come to your door and make you regret what you’ve done.”
“We’re very concerned about our safety,” says Kushner-Metteer.
Garner confirmed that some of the people involved with distributing the flyers have received threats, although he wouldn’t confirm specific language of letters or phone calls. He says that none have risen to the level of death threats, but that the Kalispell Police are working to trace the threats and prosecute anyone found to have made them under Privacy in Communications laws.
Garner says all the written threats, so far, have come from outside the Flathead Valley.
After a Sept. 7 story about the Gaedes’ Kalispell reception, April Gaede has declined further interviews with the Independent, but said in a Sept. 5 interview that she moved to Kalispell from Bakersfield, Calif., in part for the anonymity.
Letters to the editor published in the Daily Inter Lake have questioned whether it was right to out the Gaedes, noting that they hadn’t done anything other than move to Kalispell.
“It’s absolutely the right thing to do,” says Ken Toole, co-founder and co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network.
“The tendency is to say, ‘Oh, it’s just a couple of kooks,’ and not do anything,” Toole says.
He says it is important to preempt Groups like National Vanguard because they “depend on being able to make their own pitch,” in which they characterize their beliefs as white pride, rather than white supremacy.
National Vanguard’s website describes the group as “An intelligent and responsible organization that stands up for the interests of White people.”
And while it states that “In asserting the primacy of race, National Vanguard does not play the game of ‘superior’ and ‘inferior,” their goal, the site says, is to form an all-white nation from the apocalyptic chaos the group predicts in the future.
Creation of mixed-race societies, according to National Vanguard, is the desire of Jews, who believe that mixed-race societies are easier to dominate.
National Vanguard bills itself as a “white nationalist” group.
Toole isn’t buying that term.
“White nationalist has a positive connotation. It keeps people wondering.” What the phrase cloaks, Toole says, is white supremacy.
It’s easier for groups like National Vanguard to recruit, he says, by calling themselves white nationalists and distributing literature on white “pride,” and saving the harder stuff for later.
Prussian Blue, according to Toole, is part of a larger effort to repackage white supremacy. “[The band is a] trademark for what April and the national movement are trying to do.”
“By using two young girls, it certainly softens the message,” he says. “It’s a very different image than skinheads doing ‘zeig heils’ in the mosh pit.”
Toole recalls the early 1990s in Billings, when white supremacist groups began doing literature drops there, and became involved in confrontations on the ethnically diverse south side of the city. He says there was only a small community response at first, but when a brick was thrown through the window of a Jewish doctor in 1993, Billings’ citizens came together and demonstrated against racism. These events were documented in the PBS film Not In Our Town, which gave rise to the Not In Our Town project, which helps communities formulate their responses to various “hate groups.”
Toole notes that one of the things activists have learned in Billings is not to wait until something bad happens to get the community involved. He says MHRN and community members are planning a Kalispell rally, but no date or place has been set at press time.
As for the safety of neighbors who have already spoken out, Toole suspects “These folks are safest in public.”
Other white supremacists have also made headlines in Montana in the last year, including Shawn Stuart, who filed as a Montana House candidate in Butte, and Kevin McGuire, who ran for a school board position in Bozeman; both are members of the National Socialist Movement, another white supremacy organization.
“The $64,000 question,” Toole says, is whether the Gaedes’ move to Montana, coupled with Stuart’s and McGuire’s activities, indicate a wider white supremacy movement in the state. On that point, Kalispell Police Chief Garner declined to speculate.