Richard Girnt Butler (February 23, 1918 - September 8, 2004) was an American aerospace engineer for Lockheed and founder of Aryan Nations, a White separatist organization built around Christian Identity.
Education and career
Butler, who was educated in southern California, including Aeronautical Engineering at Los Angeles City College, was a co-inventor for rapid repair of tubeless tires and held both U.S. and Canadian patents thereon.
In 1946, Butler organized and operated a machine plant for the production and precision machining of automotive parts and engine assemblies for commercial and military aircraft in the USA, Africa, and India. Butler was a marketing analyst for new inventions from 1964 through 1973. Butler then became a senior manufacturing engineer for Lockheed Aircraft Co. in Palmdale, CA.
In the 1970s, he moved from California to northern Idaho, where he founded the Aryan Nations, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ–Christian, whose ideology is a mixture of Christian Identity and National Socialism. The organization operated from a 20-acre compound in Hayden, Idaho, a suburb of tourist town Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Butler was implicated in plots to overthrow the U.S. government in the 1980s, and had ties to the domestic terrorist group The Order. His group often blanketed the community with political flyers and mass mailings, and held an annual parade in downtown Coeur d'Alene, but was never welcomed by the town or its residents.
In 1987 Butler was "indicted for seditious conspiracy" in the Fort Smith sedition trials, but "prosecutors failed to convince an Arkansas jury that Butler and several other prominent racists had conspired to start a race war."
In 2000, Victoria and Jason Keenan, two American Indians who had been harassed at gunpoint by Aryan Nations' members, successfully sued Butler. Represented by local attorney Norm Gissel and Morris Dees' Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, they won a combined civil judgment of $6.3 million from Butler and the Aryan Nations' members who attacked them. Butler then sold the compound. In the fall of 2000, fellow Sandpoint, Idaho millionaire Vincent Bertollini provided Butler with a new house in Hayden, Idaho.
At the time of his death Aryan Nations had 200 members, Butler's World Congress in 2002 drew fewer than 100 people, and when he ran for mayor, he lost by about 2,100 votes to 50.