Black Mountain attorney included in special report by hate-group trackers
BLACK MOUNTAIN - The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, has issued a special report on the growing "neo-Confederate" movement and Black Mountain attorney Kirk Lyons' role in it, as well as tracking Lyons' associations with White supremacists.
The national magazine also featured former Asheville NAACP President H.K. Edgerton, one of a very few Black men involved in the movement to preserve the Confederate flag. The magazine characterized Edgerton, who is chairman of the Southern Legal Resource Center's board, as a pawn Lyons is using so he can appear unbiased.
Lyons and Edgerton called the article ludicrous and said it was based on lies and half-truths. But Lyons declined to point out what he felt was inaccurate about the article.
He also said SPLC leader Morris Dees is trying to demonize him to get donations to run his "poverty palace," because he is "running out of enemies."
Dees likes to use the term "neo-Confederate" movement because it sounds like "neo-Nazi," Lyons said. "This isn't the neo-Confederate movement. This is the Southern civil rights movement. It's the same struggle for civil rights that every other group in this country has made."
But the magazine article didn't portray it as that innocent, and it listed some of the Confederate-rights organizations as "hate groups."
In a 53-page report, the magazine traces Lyons' backgrounds from his wedding at the Aryan Nations Church, his associations with Ku Klux Klan leaders and his invitation to neo-Nazi skinheads to join him in commemorating a 1938 attack on German and Austrian Jews.
The 53-page summer 2000 issue of the center's Intelligence Report is called "Rebels with a Cause," and includes six pages on Edgerton, Lyons and Neill Payne, Lyons' law partner and brother-in-law. Payne is also a chiropractor.
In September 1990, two sisters married Payne and Lyons in a double ceremony. Lyons' best man was a former Klan leader and "ambassador-at-large" for the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations. The sisters had been raised in the Aryan Nations Church, Lyons said. Because their father paid for the wedding, Lyons said he didn't insist that it be held elsewhere.
"How is my being married anywhere proof of anything?" Lyons asked. "It's a scum bag who attacks someone through his wife."
"If I got married in Tel Aviv, that wouldn't make me a Jew," Payne said. "If I got married in the Vatican, that wouldn't make me a Catholic."
Some of the magazine's other claims include:
- Lyons spoke at the Aryan Nations World Congress in the fall of 1987.
- Lyons defended the former director of counterinsurgency for the anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus in 1988.
- Lyons spoke at the "Rocky Mountain Family Bible Retreat," hosted by a leading ideologue of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity religion in 1989.
- Around 1990, Lyons was identified a member of the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group run by William Pierce, who wrote the race war book that Timothy McVeigh used as a blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing. Then, Lyons had organized the Patriot's Defense Foundation. Pierce urged his members to send Lyons donations.
- Lyons told a German neo-Nazi publication in 1992 that if the Klan wants to be stronger, it should "become invisible. Hang the robes and hoods in the cupboard and become an underground organization."
- Texas Klan leader William Latham said in 1992 that Lyons is "like a Klan lawyer," and that he "understands our beliefs. He shares them."
- Lyons gave a speech to David Duke's Populist Party in 1992 and says White rights are a global struggle requiring "professionalism."
- Lyons ran an ad in White Aryan Resistance's newsletter in 1993 describing his law practice as "America's only pro-White law firm."
Then, Lyons was head of CAUSE, which stood for Canada, Australia, United States, South Africa and Europe, places where he said conservative rights were jeopardized.
- Lyons helped start a group called ENOUGH! to protest the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He called it a "monstrosity and taxpayer-funded obscenity."
CAUSE eventually shut down in 1998. Lyons now is chief trial counsel for the Southern Legal Resource Center based in an admittedly run-down apartment unit in Black Mountain.
Lyons pointed to his old, green office chair with foam bursting through its many cracks and said the Southern Legal Resource Center doesn't have near the posh surroundings as the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.
Payne said despite the magazine article, he and Lyons will continue with the "daily grind in the trenches trying to save the civil rights for Southern school kids, workers and others," and continue to defend the Constitution, no matter who's been violated by it - whether Klansman or Black man.
"Our work has been about the defense of the Constitution," Lyons said. "If it takes defending the scum of the earth to defend the Constitution, well, that's what we're going to do."
Meanwhile, Edgerton and Lyons said they'll push in the next few months for reparations for Confederate Southerners whose ancestors' homes were looted or destroyed by "Yankees" during the Civil War.
They also want to work on getting national origin status for Southerners, Lyons said. Confederate Southerners belong to a distinct culture and deserve the same rights as "Cajuns or Puerto Ricans, as some of these people who never had a country or a quasi-government."
"That includes Black Southerners," Edgerton said.
Contact Dryman at 232-5953 or SDryman@CITIZEN-TIMES.com
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