Litigation such as the Keenan vs. Aryan Nations trial is driving fringe groups underground rather than out of business, said white supremacist Tom Metzger.
Metzger and his White Aryan Resistance remain vocal in the racist movement despite losing a civil trial against Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1990.
A California jury awarded $12.5 million to the family of an Ethiopian student killed by a WAR-inspired gang.
"I lost my little old house, a small business and my wife," said Metzger, who was in Coeur d'Alene Tuesday to support Richard Butler and his Aryan Nations. "You pick up the pieces and go on. Either you're in this for the duration or you're not."
But Metzger said the jury award hasn't silenced him. "I never stopped publishing my newspaper," he said, holding an issue of the tabloid. "WAR."
Metzger, who describes himself as an atheist, joked that he will consider changing his religious beliefs to align with Butler's if Butler should prevail.
"These cases are 90 percent smear and 10 percent evidence," he said. But if Butler loses, his opponents may be shooting themselves in the foot, he added. "If you take away his gathering place, you won't know where they are going to be," he said.
Metzger said he has known Butler for more than 20 years. "I've never seen him say anything about hurting somebody or shooting somebody," he said.
Metzger said he hasn't been to the annual Aryan Nations World Congress for several years because he doesn't agree with Butler's open organization. "I promote the lone-wolf cell structure," he said.
The philosophy of a cell structure is for a few people to commit violent or criminal acts without exposing an entire movement or organization to liability.
"We're moving into Phase II," Metzger said. He declined to elaborate, but threw out the example of the suspected abortion clinic and Olympic bomber. "The government spent $25 million looking for Eric Rudolph," he said.
Butler's lawyer, Edgar Steele of Sandpoint, had intended to call Metzger as a witness. Steele decided Tuesday afternoon that Metzger's testimony wasn't necessary.