Kirk Lyons Steps Up As Leader of Neo-Confederate Movement
Around the same time, Lyons was identified as a member of the National Alliance, the neo-Nazi group headed by William Pierce, who wrote the race war novel used by Timothy McVeigh as a blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing.
In a late 1989 issue of the members-only National Alliance Bulletin, Pierce wrote that "Houston member Kirk Lyons, an attorney ... has organized the Patriot's Defense Foundation as a start toward doing for our people what the Jews have done for enemies... ." Pierce then suggested that members send PDF donations.
Romance, too, was in the air.
In September 1990, a kilt-clad Lyons, only recently divorced, married the daughter of Charles Tate, at that time the second-in-command at Aryan Nations. The service was held in the Aryan Nations church, and, as Lyons requested, it was a Scottish affair complete with bagpipes and an exchange of the tartans of the Lyons and Tate clans.
His new wife, Brenna Tate, had grown up on the Aryan Nations compound with her parents. Brenna's brother, David Tate, was an imprisoned member of The Order who was serving a life sentence in Missouri for the murder of a state trooper. Presiding over Lyons' wedding ceremony was none other than hatemeister Richard Butler.
And Lyons' best man? An old friend, Louis Beam.
In an unusual twist, the new couple were not alone. Married alongside them in a double ceremony were Neill Payne — who, along with Dave Holloway, was on the PDF board of directors with Lyons — and Brenna Tate's sister. Henceforth, Payne and Lyons would not be mere colleagues. They were family.
Fighting for the 'CAUSE'
Lyons' political attitude seemed only to harden. In early 1990, when Nazi flags were hung on a Jewish-owned store in Houston on Hitler's birthday, Lyons told a reporter the incident seemed "a pretty harmless prank." In an interview a year later with The Klansman, he reassured white supremacists that he was not working for "ZOG" — short for "Zionist Occupation Government."
"Democracy is a farce and a failure," he told a German neo-Nazi publication in 1992.
"It would be good if the Klan followed the advice of former Klansman Robert Miles: 'Become invisible. Hang the robes and hoods in the cupboard and become an underground organization. This would make the Klan stronger than ever before."
According to the Black Mountain (N.C.) News, Lyons invited neo-Nazi Skinheads to his home to commemorate Kristallnacht, a 1938 attack on German and Austrian Jews.
"He's like a Klan lawyer," is the way Texas Klan leader William Latham put it in a 1990 interview. "He understands our beliefs. He shares them."
In a 1992 speech to a gathering of the Populist Party, which had run David Duke for president four years earlier, Lyons summed up his views: "This is a global struggle that European people will not perish from the face of the earth, [and] if we are going to succeed in a worldwide movement, for that of white rights and a white future ... we must encourage professionalism."
In 1991, the PDF's name was changed to CAUSE, which stands for Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa and Europe — the places where Lyons judged the rights of the white majority to be under attack.
Not long after the name change, the entire operation was relocated to Black Mountain, N.C. Lyons would later tell a reporter that the move — in which he was accompanied by Payne and Holloway — was prompted by financial problems and urban crime.
CAUSE didn't mince words. In a 1993 ad in White Aryan Resistance's racist newsletter, CAUSE described itself as "America's only pro-White law firm." A 1995 CAUSE solicitation for donations in Soldier of Fortune magazine read, "Help stop [U.S. Atty. Gen. Janet] Reno and her Gun Grabbing Goons."
Charles and Betty Tate soon left the Aryan Nations' Idaho compound to join their daughter in North Carolina, where Betty Tate took a position as a clerical assistant with CAUSE. And another addition was made to the organization: Sam Dickson, a right-wing Georgia lawyer who had represented Duke and a number of Klansmen over the years, was added as a board director for CAUSE.
During this period, Lyons represented Fred Leuchter, an engineer who claimed the Nazis could not have gassed Jews to death in their concentration camps. (Leuchter was charged with practicing engineering without a license.)
He spoke in Atlanta along with other well-known white supremacists on a U.S. tour by John Tyndall, then head of the neofascist British National Party. He attended a meeting of the Institute for Historical Review, a notorious Holocaust denial outfit.
In 1992, CAUSE attempted to inject itself into the case of Randy Weaver, an Idaho white supremacist against whom a bench warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court to face weapons charges.
In August, after lawmen surrounded Weaver's Ruby Ridge cabin, Lyons says CAUSE prepared to ask a judge to force federal agents to back off. But by the time CAUSE was ready to act, "we heard Randy had surrendered," Lyons told the racist Stormfront magazine in an interview.
The Disappointments Begin
Kirk Lyons had missed the boat. What was to become one of the key events of the decade on the radical right had slipped away without him. Although Lyons says he briefly represented Weaver after the standoff ended, Weaver soon turned to another lawyer — and eventually won a $3.1 million settlement from the federal government after suing over the FBI's shooting of his wife and son.
It was the first of several disappointments.
Lyons spoke at a key October 1992 gathering in Estes Park, Colo., hosted by Christian Identity minister Pete Peters, where the contours of the modern militia movement were laid out. At one point, Lyons referred to "we, as Christian Israelites," suggesting he was a believer in the racist Identity theology.
At another, he proposed filing a class action lawsuit "on behalf of all Identity believers against this government to stop the persecution." But while Beam's speech at the gathering became legendary, Lyons' more mundane talk was quickly forgotten.
At around the same time, Lyons and several associates created a group called ENOUGH! to demonstrate against the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In an interview with a Holocaust denial periodical, Lyons railed against "this monstrosity and taxpayer-funded obscenity."
Early the next year, the standoff between Branch Davidians and federal agents in Waco, Texas, began — another key event in the history of the radical right during the 1990s. Lyons and Holloway showed up in Waco a few days later.
Lyons played a small part in the saga that followed. He approached Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin — a famous defense attorney who had earlier represented a friend of Lyons' in a murder case — and got him to represent Davidian cult leader David Koresh. Lyons filed what he modestly described as "a historic, never before filed, [request for a] temporary restraining order," asking a judge to order federal agents back.
It was dismissed. He held a sparsely attended press conference asking for independent negotiators and saying that without such help, federal standoffs typically end "in injury and death, mostly by fire." CAUSE would later try to make much of this apparent prescience — the Waco standoff did, after all, end in a fire that left some 80 Davidians dead. But this, too, was soon forgotten.
"We knew what these dangerous, cultist maniacs in the government were going to do," Lyons would claim petulantly in a 1994 interview.