In jailhouse book, former Idaho neo-Nazi says he’s sorry

Zach Beck, a former candidate for Hayden City Council writing from a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., is apologizing for his actions in a self-published book, “Hate Behind Blue Eyes.”

Beck is serving 51 months in prison for a 2010 racially-motivated attack on an African-American man at a Vancouver, Wash., sports bar. He is scheduled to be released in June 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Beck, 34, lived for a time with the Rev. Richard Butler, founder of the Aryan Nations Church in North Idaho. Butler died in 2004.

Beck details a string of hate-driven crimes inspired by Butler and his church and says his disavowal of white supremacy has prompted the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang to mark him as “K.O.S.” for “kill on sight.”

“Oddly enough, I felt a sense of accomplishment with that,” Beck wrote to the Longview (Wash.) Daily News, which published a long story Saturday by reporter Tony Lystra on Beck and his book.

In 2000, a Kootenai County jury awarded $6.3 million to a mother and son, Victoria and Jason Keenan, who were attacked by Butler’s guards. Butler and the Aryan Nations filed for bankruptcy and the Keenans were awarded the church compound. They, in turn, sold the grounds to Idaho Falls philanthropist Greg Carr, who destroyed the compound and made it a peace park now operated by the North Idaho College Foundation.

In and out of prison since age 19, Beck lived with Butler in 2003 and says he was Butler’s No. 2 in a home he describes as a “Nazi fraternity house.” Beck later moved to Longview at Butler’s urging, marrying an older wealthy woman who helped finance Butler and recruiting. In December 2007, he organized a rally in Longview that drew 30 neo-Nazis and 400 counter-protesters.

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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