Not Much Meeting or Greeting at Aryan Event

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com June 28, 2011

The Northwest Region of the Aryan Nation was supposed to have a “eat, greet, and meet” event June 27, at Valley County’s Lake Cascade State Park. According to fliers and a website, the event was to take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Idaho Parks and Recreation communications manager Jennifer Blazek told Citydesk a group of about eight individuals showed up at 5 p.m. and left at 9 p.m.

“They set up their awning and flag, had a barbecue, and then left before sunset,” Blazek said, calling it a “non-event.”

Lt. Dan Smith, Valley County Sheriff’s information officer, said the department had advance notice of the event but did not plan to provide security. Smith said the secluded campground does not “get much traffic,” and no calls or complaint were received.

Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Report for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Citydesk, “The reality is, we have been seeing a resurgence of the radical-right in this country over the past several years, especially the last two years, and the Pacific Northwest is very much a part of that. This is part of a much larger national trend.”

“It is worth saying;” added Potok, “I do not think that Idaho or Montana are at the levels that they were. The destruction of Aryan Nation has changed the calculus there. I do not doubt that there are still several hundred white supremacists in the area, but they do not have near the organizational energy that they once did. The [SPLC’s law] suit really destroyed them.”

Aryans Nations Promote Valley County “Eat, Greet and Meet”

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com June 23, 2011

The Northwest Region of the Aryan Nation is promoting an all-day “eat, greet and meet” event Sunday, June 26, at Valley County’s Lake Cascade State Park.

Idaho Parks and Recreation Communications Manager Jennifer Blazek told Citydesk Lake Cascade’s park manager has been communicating with John Bolen, Aryan Nations NW Coordinator, informing him of Camp Buttercup’s park rules.

State parks require a per-approval application for groups larger than 25 persons. Blazek said the park has yet to receive an application from the group and so far only two campsites were reserved for attendees.

“Because it is public property, we cannot be selective on who utilizes the property,” said Blazek. “We do ensure everybody abides by the same rules.”

Fliers promoting the gathering posted on the Aryan Nation website claim, “lying, cheating, sexual deviants are running America,” “hate crime legislation targets whites,” “non-white crime is under-reported” and “by 2020 there will be no white child-bearing age females to sustain a viable population.”

The website has a link to the state park page for Lake Cascade that, when clicked on, opens the state’s park page framed inside the Aryan Nation website under the banner: “Fighting Jewish Takeover for 35 years.”

Lake Cascade, Idaho State Park, Camp Buttercup, Aryan Nations

“I prefer our agency didn’t at all look as if it was affiliated with or endorsing that entity, because certainly we don’t,” said Blazek. “There is really nothing we can do to control the links or windows they have pop up on their website.”

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill Update

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com May. 11, 2011

An Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, thought dead by many, has resurfaced, and LGBT Ugandans and their allies are bracing for the worst with a possibility that the bill could pass any day now. Activists say motivations are not just about homophobia, and that the bill is being used as a political tool.

“There is credible speculation that the AHB is being used to blind the world to the Ugandan government’s failure to address problems of rampant inflation and civil unrest,” said the Rev. Peter Morales of the Unitarian Universalists Association. “Whatever the motivation, it is clear the AHB is an attack not only on LGBT Ugandans but on the basic principles of inclusivity and human rights.”

The church has been coordinating with the Unitarian church in Uganda, whose pastor, the Rev. Mark Kiyimba, was here in Boise in November 2010 speaking about what he said was the extreme homophobia that American evangelicals have exported to his homeland that have resulted in the AHB and increased hate crimes in the country

Ugandan LGBT activist Peter Yiga was attacked in a home invasion after a Ugandan tabloid published names and addresses of known or suspected LGBT Ugandans under the headline, “100 Pictures of Ugandan Top Homo’s Leaked — Hang Them!”

In 2010, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni put the brakes on the AHB because of global pressure, largely from Europe and the United States. It now appears his position has shifted. Despite a petition circulating internationally that has so far collected more than 450,000 signatures all over the globe, President Museveni said on May 10 that he will not back down to foreign pressure, according to Yiga.

“[Museveni] might have devised a way out; he may pass the bill and start arresting us,” Yiga said.

Whether the AHB passes or not, Yiga siad LGBT Ugandans are still is serious danger,

“People are furious,” said Yiga, “They have been saying if Museveni isn’t ready to handle homosexuals, they will do it themselves.”

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill Story ‘Exporting Homophobia’ Wins Journalism Award

Boise Weekly Deanna Darr Jody May-Chang Rachael Daigle Idaho Press Club Awards Banquet

(left to right) Boise Weekly Features Editor Deanna Darr, yours truly, Boise Weekly Editor-in-Chief Rachael Daigle at the Idaho Press Club awards Sat. April 7, 2011.

My first feature published in the Boise Weekly Sept. 10, 2010, Exporting Homophobia: American far-right conservative churches establish influence on anti-gay policy in Africa won a 2nd place award at the Idaho Press Club’s Best of 2010 banquet category:
Weekly Print Media Watchdog / Investigative Report. Having received such praise from other journalists is very humbling.

Thank you Idaho Press Club and most especially to Rachael Daigle, Deanna Darr and Nathanial Hoffman for believing in my work and providing the opportunity to write for such a great publication!

To start a completely new career at this time in life is a rather scary venture and I am extremely grateful to have such great readers and supporters. I could not have been more blessed to be encouraged, mentored, and at times kicked in the ass, by two of my very special and dearest of friends, John Redding, himself a very talented media professional and my BFF Melinda Moreno.

Nothing could make this a more perfect time than to also be enjoying Mother’s day with our amazing son Cody, and at the same time to be celebrating my 14th wedding anniversary with the love of my life Maria, who has not only loved and supported me unconditionally for more than 15 years, but with whom I cannot imagine a better life.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, this one is for you!

Carlson Talks After Guilt Verdict

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Apr. 18, 2011

After being found guilty of first degree arson, possessing a hoax destructive device and indecent exposure on April 14, Citydesk talked to Catherine Carlson about her conviction.

“Well I expected it, and I didn’t expect it, and it blew my mind … I [am going] to prison because I couldn’t transfer that title of that trailer into my name because I refuse to register as transgender,” said Carlson.

The 56-year-old Payette woman has a long history of physical and psychological abuse, and has had numerous encounters with the courts and law enforcement over the years.

July 11, 2010, Carlson torched the trailer where she lived, placed four fake pipe bombs on her doorstep and put a note on her front door that read, “No one inside, booby trapped, it’s not worth your life, keep out.” She then headed to a storage facility where she set her truck on fire. Carlson was arrested shortly afterward, while walking naked down Highway 95 in Payette. Continue reading

Catherine Carlson Found Guilty On All Charges

It took the jury of five women and seven men one hour to come to a verdict, finding 56 year-old Catherine Carlson guilty of first degree arson, possessing a hoax destructive device and indecent exposure.

After the verdict Carlson’s attorney Phillip Heersink said that although he “was not overly surprised” he was still “disappointed” by the decision.

Against Heersink’s advice, Carlson took the stand as the only witness for the defense. Extremely thin and gaunt, the weathered looking Carlson began her testimony restrained and respectful. She responded to her attorney’s questions regarding the events leading up to her July 11, 2010 arrest.

During cross-examination Payette Country prosecutor Anne Marie Kelso’s, line of questioning agitated Carlson. It got particularly emotional during the following exchange between Carlson and Kelso. Continue reading

Catherine Carlson’s day in court
Advocates suggest a hospital is more appropriate than prison

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
NEWS FEATURE: Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Apr. 6, 2011

Catherine Carlson, Boise Weekly, Transgender, Prison, IdahoCatherine Carlson knows that when she steps into the Payette County courtroom on Tuesday, April 12, she faces the possibility of spending the rest of her days in prison. She also knows that she is her only defense witness. But she wants her day in court.

Carlson, a 53-year-old transsexual woman, is charged with three felonies: first-degree arson, unlawful possession of a bomb or destructive device, and usage of a hoax destructive device. She is also facing a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure. All told, she faces up to 35 years behind bars and a $120,000 fine.

On the morning of July 11, 2010, firefighters responded to a report of a blaze in a Payette trailer park. Tension quickly mounted when authorities discovered alleged pipe bombs rigged to a propane tank on the front porch of one of the trailers. Attached was a note warning that the home was booby-trapped. Law enforcement evacuated the area while bomb technicians defused the device.

Within an hour, firefighters received another call, this time for a car that had been set ablaze near a storage unit north of Payette. Emergency dispatchers received a third call shortly thereafter. Drivers on U.S. Highway 95 near Payette said they had seen a naked woman running down the highway. It was Carlson. Police said she owned the vehicle and the trailer home. Continue reading

Unions Rally at Statehouse, Call for Luna Recall

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Apr. 5, 2011

About 200 picketers outside the Statehouse joined protesters across Idaho Monday in solidarity with public sector workers, who have been under attack in what one legislator called a Republican “war on working people.”

The crowd roared when, in his opening remarks, Democratic Rep. Brian Cronin of Boise pointed at the Idaho Capitol and said, “It is such a relief to leave this building and come out and talk to some real people.

“We have really done a number on the teachers,” Cronin said. “Somehow these heroes of the classroom, the people who educate our children, are the villains in conservative ideology. I do not think it’s an exaggeration to call recent actions of various governors and legislatures a war on working people.”

We Are One Rally - Boise, Idaho April 4, 2011

Dave Whaley, rally organizer and president of the AFL-CIO of Idaho, told the crowd, “We cannot leave this Legislature and not forget what happened here this session. They’re stealing your rights.”

“Folks, it’s been said, but it bears repeating,” Cronin added. “If you are not angry right now, you are simply not paying attention!”

Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant told Citydesk an effort to recall State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is under way. Continue reading