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Sheriff candidate hosts cross lighting

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Posted: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 1:06 pm, Wed May 9, 2012.

SANDPOINT — It’s unlikely that any other Bonner County sheriff candidate spent their Friday night like Shaun Winkler.

At his compound just outside Priest River, Winkler and other family members of the northern Idaho Ku Klux Klan klavern held a get-together that included a nighttime cross lighting. Winkler, 33, is also tied to the Aryan Nations and Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. He has participated in racially-charged Kootenai County protests.

According to Winkler, cross lighting, more commonly known as cross burning, often provokes strong reactions from most people. That’s why the ceremony is conducted in private within the compound once a month or so.

“Generally, for a cross lighting, it’s extremely rare we’d let any media there at all,” he said.

However, after discussing the matter with his family and associates, Winkler agreed to allow photos and outside observation for the ceremony. He said the evening was meant to express both camaraderie and religious devotion.

The evening began like many a family picnic elsewhere in the country. Group members barbecued and enjoyed a congenial meal with one another. About 20 people attended the event, although not everyone wore the iconic klan robes. Three attendees specifically identified themselves as members of the klavern. Winkler mentioned that not every member of the group could make the trip.

Afterward, Winkler called everyone’s attention to speak for about a half-hour on the racial, political and social groups they opposed. Finally, once darkness fell, the evening concluded by setting a wooden cross afire.

That particular action, Winkler predicted, would be the source of much misunderstanding.

“Mainstream society looks at cross lighting as a symbol of hate, but it predates the klan by hundreds of years,” he said. “We look at it more as a religious symbol.”

According to Winkler, the religious component of the ceremony dates back to back to Scottish origins, when clan members used it as a means of communication. He also saw it as a pointedly Christian symbol, a representation of Jesus Christ’s light spreading to the rest of the world.

However, the Ku Klux Klan of the early 20th century effectively erased any other associations in the public consciousness when they appropriated cross lighting as a tool of terror and coercion.

According to Brenda Hammond, secretary for the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, the continued use of cross lighting is a matter of grave concern.

“It shows the need for the human rights task force has not gone away,” she said. “Many of us on the task force have really regretted Bonner County’s reputation for harboring racism when the vast majority of us don’t think like that.”

Despite the unpopularity of his racial views, Winkler is soldiering on with his sheriff’s candidacy. On Monday, he participated in a candidate’s forum at the Blanchard Community Center. He continued to insist his Ku Klux Klan ties would not impact his performance as sheriff or make him susceptible to racial profiling. Instead, he would focus on tough stances regarding drugs and sex offenders.

“Most people don’t know that we don’t just oppose the Jews and the negroes,” he said. “We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind.”

Winkler added that if he had his way, perpetrators of sexual crimes would be hung immediately.

As for the cross lighting and his other white supremacist links, Winkler admits that those who oppose him for his viewpoints probably won’t come around. Given that likelihood, he’s not worried about alienating potential supporters.

“I think at this point, whoever is going to disagree with me will keep on disagreeing, and those who agree with me will keep on agreeing,” he said.

• Matt Mills McKnight contributed to this story.

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  • itzrandy posted at 9:51 pm on Sat, May 12, 2012.

    itzrandy Posts: 902

    @ Fury & Cox:

    Nope, we're all still here, I would presume, but we are not willing to give this Winkler idiot the time of day.

    On a side note, Maroon is demonstrating the typical ignorance that floats around in here on an all too frequent basis, as of late. Exactly what does Bill's past employment, marriages, shoe size, dinner entree choices, or anything else have to do with the topic at hand? Are you trying to impress us with your ability to dig up publicly available info or even, contribute to the rumor mill? Grow up!

    Gee, a whole 4 postings so far by this goober ...... one doesn't possibly think it's another instance of someone loading up another screen name to simply take potshots at those they disagree with, do they?

  • Barbara Schriber posted at 4:20 pm on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    Barbara Schriber Posts: 3

    There were a few comments below insinuating that those trying to promote Sandpoint want this swept under the rug. My point is that I've lived in different states, rural, suburban and worked in many cities and racism is not unique to Sandpoint or Idaho. I don't deny that racism exists, sadly, it does. It disturbs me that cross burning occur in this beautiful place, but it doesn't surprise me. It just kills me that the national collective concience immediately connects Idaho to KKK/racists/Skin Heads. I've lived in Huntington Beach, CA and there are many more just sitting on the street on a given day in HB than there were at this man's gathering. I don't see that on the national news.

    A few weeks ago Juan Williams, who I typically respect, though I don't always agree with, made a comment about the number of racists living in the woods of Idaho with guns (I paraphrase, but check out youtube). This comment was soon after Winkler's candidacy made national headlines. I do not think of Mr. Williams as a typically ignorant man, but this is an example of what sticks in people's heads.

    Lastly, some comments below insinuate responsible journalism tackles difficult topics that we may want to turn a blind eye to. It is! But, I didn't read the article as a fiery expose of the hidden KKK and how Sandpoint and its citizens are up in arms. That would be newsworthy. But this article just seemed like exposure for a small percentage of the population.

    Sandpoint is a very generous town with countless charities and generous citizens. I wish we were known for that.

  • What a Maroon posted at 2:38 pm on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    What a Maroon Posts: 4

    You might want to conserve your energy, Bill. I haven't even gotten to your multiple divorces yet.

  • Colin Cox posted at 11:15 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    Colin Cox Posts: 62

    I was wondering the same thing Lawrence. Maybe the economy really is improving and they finally found a job.

  • LawrenceFury posted at 10:29 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    LawrenceFury Posts: 704

    Just noticing something interesting. Who is missing from this discussion? The Right extremists such as Big Dan, Old Cop and the like. Rather revealing in their enlightenment they choose to remain oddly quiet. Just saying...

  • Relativism posted at 8:12 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    Relativism Posts: 19

    As distasteful as this is, a legitimate news agency reports the news unselectively. Not reporting something because it is controversial and potentially damaging to certain people's or organization's reputation (in this case Bonner County) creates a biased outlook and does not represent free-speech. Either you live in ignorance and watch the world burn, or you remain informed and do something to change a bad situation.

    With that being said, it's not like the Bee has never participated in selective/strategic news reporting...

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 8:06 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    @Blazer - both posts. Thanks for your input. I realize that a newspaper has to make some tough decisions in what they report. My concern was NOT that this article was going to get him more votes, but that it would get him more support for his anti-American, racist organization. There is NO way Shaun Winkler was going to get more than a handful of votes. He is NOT a real candidate.

    This advertising was not about his candidacy but about his organization.

  • Blazer posted at 7:11 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    Blazer Posts: 6

    BTW, anyone who sees this as free political advertising is saying that the article will attract voters to this candidate, Really?

  • Blazer posted at 6:50 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    Blazer Posts: 6

    I grew up in Sandpoint and now live in a small town in the midwest. I work for a newspaper and have seen this kind of thing before. First of all you have a community newspaper who has an unspoken duty to report the NEWS, and YES it is at their discression, newspapers are not funded by the govt and are usually run by people who know how to do their jobs. It is funny to me how people act like the Bee is a joke until actual NEWS about a resident running for office gets attention. If you are in business in the area and think people will not buy houses or whatever because of this story you are just not very enlightened as to how media and the reader works. If people think that this small group of people are going to tarnish the reputation of an entire county then there are bigger problems than this idiot, I wouldn't want people that ignorant moving into my community and I wouldn't support a business with such a narrow outlook on their own town. I WANT to know about people like this if they live around me, then you can deal with it. Maybe you can sell a nice couple a home near a kkk fool and feel good about it because people are keeping it a secret so it doesn't exist, right?

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 10:27 pm on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    @What a Maroon - post of 6:58 p.m. - My definition of "guts" is to be man / woman enough not to hide behind some stupid moniker so you can take pot shots at someone. Anyone can hide. It does not take any guts or self esteem. I say "guts' is facing the two armed robbery suspects that had initiated the exchange of gun fire, making sure thay didn't escape to endanger more innocent lives and when forced to do so, kill one and wound the other.

    Who gave you this stupid name, your mother or your father? One way or another, I'm sure they are very proud of your personal growth and integrity.

    I knew you didn't have the personal integrity to address me in person. Your type never do, they hide in the dark so they don't have to face the realities of life.

    And speaking of a fairy cloud, that's probably reality for you, a fairy cloud.

  • What a Maroon posted at 6:58 pm on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    What a Maroon Posts: 4

    Boo Hoo. Unflattering publicity is preventing realtors from misrepresenting that Bonner County is a fairy cloud where nothing bad ever happens.

    @Bill Litsinger: What's your definition of guts? Is it fatally shooting a suspect already in handcuffs in LA on Nov. 16, 1980?

  • Rhonda posted at 6:57 pm on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    Thanks Cameron, for the clear-up I was just wondering.

  • posted at 3:49 pm on Thu, May 10, 2012.


    Rhonda, there is no real difference. I chose to use Winkler's terminology for the article. If it were more euphemistic or loaded, I would not have done so, but both seem to be accepted terms for the action.

  • Rhonda posted at 2:35 pm on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    What is the difference in a cross lighting and a cross burning Bee?

  • localgirl posted at 9:52 am on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    localgirl Posts: 137

    @Amused: A maroon is a person who is figuratively lost or clueless, as one who has been marooned on a desert island. It was a popular term decades ago. I'm pretty sure Eddie Haskel used it a lot to explain The Beav's silliness on "Leave it to Beaver."

  • localgirl posted at 9:46 am on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    localgirl Posts: 137

    "Winkler added that if he had his way, perpetrators of sexual crimes would be hung immediately."

    You mean immediately after being proven guilty in a court of law, right Mr. Winkler? Heh, heh...right?

  • reddawn posted at 8:51 am on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    reddawn Posts: 1706

    This front page story just gave us the information we all needed from Aryan Graphics Designs to make it easy to track them threw there e-mail site. If you really think for one moment those of whom are lost in judgement , who believe you are not watched and monitored must have your blinders on. As you all can see it just made it easier for those whom protect us from the lost souls of judgement just busted themselfs .

  • Rhonda posted at 11:00 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    Bill Litsinger said it all in his first comment............... "This is his biggest political ad yet and it was FREE. Winkler didn't expect to win, he wanted publicity for his KKK Chapter." and The Bee gave him the front page!

  • Oak man posted at 8:28 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Oak man Posts: 1

    Today's headline picture and article about a racist loser is the most offensive thing I have ever seen. To see the image of a burning cross on our local newspaper is in the poorest taste imaginable. How can the mention of the klan and that image in the same article portray anything but pure hatred and ignorance. Giving these people front page coverage somehow legitimizes their beliefs. BIG MISTAKE Dacvid Keyes.

    To know that there are children being exposed to the filth at those meetings is kind of like leaving them alone with a sexual predator.

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 8:21 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    @TylerM - post of 12:42 p.m. - thank you for your post. I don't agree that "Hate" is part of our culture here. I would like to invite you to be a guest on my radio program and further discuss this topic. If you feel this might jeapordise your safety we can arrange a call-in format so you do not have to appear in person.

    Be safe and take care,

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 8:16 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    @What a Maroon - post of 3:02 p.m. Shaun Winkler was a guest on my program not because of his past / current affiliations but because he was a candidate for public office. BlueSky Broadcasting gives all candidates some free time. I don't always and for the most part seldom agree with the philosophies of most political candidates but we /I try to be fair to all so the people can judge.

    It's always easy to talk big and make stupid statements when you don't have the guts, self esteem or back bone to identify yourself. How do I know you aren't just a wanna be something and just plain failed? Anytime you have the guts to say something to my face, let me know and I'll give you the same courtesy and opportunity that I gave the person you so seem to dislike. One difference between you and Shaun Winkler, he had the guts to show up and be himself.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  • wilson posted at 7:40 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1071

    TylerM - to insinuate that this type of idiocy is part of Idaho culture is ridiculous - There are people of all races and beliefs in this town, and there have not been any inordinate attacks on any particular group. It is safe to say that our "Tolerance" symbol being removed is not a sign of our intolerance. All legal, law-abiding citizens are surely welcome into our community. Christians, Jews, Athiests, blacks, red, yellow and white. So there --(As long as they don't just come for the welfare - )

  • Idahodad posted at 6:26 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Idahodad Posts: 48

    Sorry, He will not recieve my vote this election.

  • Idahodad posted at 6:24 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Idahodad Posts: 48

    The Story exposes Mr. Winkler's beliefs and simpleton approach to community issues. I will not recieve my vote this election.

  • Laurie Wadkins posted at 6:03 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Laurie Wadkins Posts: 638

    Adding insult to injury, the Bee sent poor young Cameron out to cover the event.
    The Bee, obviously in need of a cover story, would have been better served by photographing Broadsword and Keough beside the Statue of Liberty at city beach. Now that's free political advertising most everyone would get behind!
    I'm sure Mr. Winkler is getting a good chuckle over some of these posts... so why humor him?

  • Idahome posted at 5:39 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Idahome Posts: 208

    Mainstream American Muslims were criticized for not condeming the 911 terrorists more vehemently. Bonner County residents are likewise open to similar criticism and the questioning of our morality, for not condemning and totally rejecting Aryan Nations, KKK, Skinhead and all the other hate-based associations with which North Idaho is stereotypically associated. Until the Bee can run articles about how these outfits were run out of Bonner County by the local citizenry, we are complicit supporters.

  • What a Maroon posted at 3:02 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    What a Maroon Posts: 4

    Litsinger's from California. God only knows where Winkler came from.

  • tony Anthnoy posted at 2:58 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    tony Anthnoy Posts: 42

    The Bee has got to cover stories like this so we can acknowledge and address the horrific discrimination that is here and just revealed in Florida. If we continue to cut our educational system, we will see more demented morons like this guy.

  • Colin Cox posted at 1:31 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Colin Cox Posts: 62

    Embarassing. Mr keyes you just errased every bit of progress that has been made in North Idaho since the Nazi's were run out of the area.

    What a Maroon, California and Mark Fuhrman have nothing to do with an idiot like Shaun Winkler.

    Mr Winkler, Jesus was a Jew. How do you wrap your pea brain around that one.

  • What a Maroon posted at 12:59 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    What a Maroon Posts: 4

    Isn't it quite hypocritical that Bill Litsinger hosts Shaun Winkler on his show and throws stones at others for reporting on Winkler and his candidacy? It's a sad state of affairs that people drink Bill's Kool-Aid. Thanks, California, for giving us this Mark Fuhrman wanna-be.

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 12:47 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    @Helen Newton - post of 12:25 p.m. The candidate for school superintenndent is an educated individual and probably woould not jump to conclusions. He will soon find out that north Idaho by vast majority does not endorse anything Shaun Winkler believes.

  • Helen Newton posted at 12:25 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Helen Newton Posts: 480

    A friend pointed out to me that yesterday was the day the school board was interviewing the only (currently) candidate to be our new superintendent of schools. Imagine his horror if he spent the night in sandpoint to wake up this morning to see the front page of our local paper.

    According to a previous story in the Bee, this man and his wife have 3 children, 15, 13 and 11.

    If you were the parent of children of such impressionable ages and saw today's front page, what would you do? My first inclination would be to take the fastest road out of Sandpoint and never look back.

    This article did not deserve even a mention in the Bee let alone front page headlines on any day of the year!

  • Barbara Schriber posted at 11:09 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Barbara Schriber Posts: 3

    Thanks Bee...just what we need...another negative article about Idaho to be picked up by the national media. It was bad enough when his candidacy was national news, now you've provided pictures. Please stop giving this man attention! A quick Google of the article and it is already in Alaska, WA, Boise, AZ...and it's not even 11 in the morning.

    There are many here working hard to promote Sandpoint, and Idaho, as a beautiful place to visit, to move to or to relocate their business (and hopefully jobs), but attention like this just sets us back and reminds the nation of our history. I give it until Friday morning and it will be on Fox, CNN and HLN,

    I hate that when I travel the two comments I hear about Idaho are the KKK and potatos.

  • Amused posted at 10:55 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Amused Posts: 50

    I cannot begin to tell you, David Keyes, how disgusted I am that you would publish such trash! We are all trying to make a living here and for you to publish an article like this JUST BEFORE our season ramps up is thoroughly irresponsible. This guy, Winkler, is the epitomy of disgust! He is NOT representing anything Christian and since when does some vermin get front page notarity because they crawled out from under some garbage can to spread hatred. Shame on you Daily Bee. You can be sure that I will not be spending a dime on your paper!

    And, thank you Bill Litsinger for your comments...

    To be sure, I am not amused at this!

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 10:35 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    This headline article leaves me a bit surprised. Mr. Winkler is a has been of a group of has been's. I can't understand why someone like him would warrant front page news. This is not out of the ordinary conduct for him or his kind. This is the best publicity he can buy. How much has Winkler spent on his political campaign for advertising in the local newspaper or the radio stations??? NOT. How many of you have seen any of his yard signs??? NOT. This is his biggest political ad yet and it was FREE. Winkler didn't expect to win, he wanted publicity for his KKK Chapter. He can thank the Bee. How much free space did the Bee give to George Eskridge, Sage Dixon, Lewis Rich or any other candidate??

    Let's move on and finally realize that this small group of genetic misfits is unworthy of this type of coverage for something that a few people actually witnessed.

    Winkler is far the the smartest guy on his campaign staff but he sure saw some free publicity in this latest stunt.

    I expected better from the Daily Bee.

  • AudraMearns posted at 10:25 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    AudraMearns Posts: 11

    Why in the world would the Bee give this organization front page news??? And feel that it is ok to quote someone putting sexual offenders and Jewish people in the same category? Shame on you Bee, you have lost what little trust I had in you.[thumbdown]