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Landmark Case

Keenan v. Aryan Nations

Case Number


Hate group compound to peace park
In July 1998, security guards at the Aryan Nations compound in Idaho shot at Victoria Keenan and her son after their car backfired nearby. The Keenans were returning from a wedding and stopped briefly near the compound to look for a wallet that had fallen out the car.

Bullets struck their car several times before the vehicle careened into a ditch. Members of the group held the Keenans at gunpoint.

The compound was heavily guarded and consisted of the home of Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler and several other structures. For decades, it had served as the meeting place for the nation's most violent white supremacists.

The Center filed Keenan v. Aryan Nations, seeking justice for the bruised and traumatized Keenans. After a weeklong trial, a jury ruled that Butler and his organization were grossly negligent in selecting and supervising the guards. In September 2000, they awarded a $6.3 million jury verdict against the Aryan Nations and Butler.

The judgment forced Butler to turn over the 20-acre compound to the Keenans. The Keenans in turn sold the property to a philanthropist who later donated it to a local college.