LEITH, N.D. — The first family to begin turning the tiny Grant County town of Leith into an all-white supremacist enclave arrived during a blinding snowstorm.
Kynan and Deborah Dutton, formerly of Oregon, are living in the home owned by Craig Cobb, a hate crimes fugitive who plans to take over the city council when white nationalists represent a voting majority.
“I’m really proud. They are the first,” Cobb said. “We can make a lot of headway in changing the world if we have 17 people there (Leith).”
It won’t take many to change the town of Leith, population 24, the official count before the Duttons and their five children ages 4 through 11 arrived in a red mini-van Saturday, during the weekend’s heavy snow.
Kynan Dutton, 28, an Iraq war veteran and self-proclaimed skinhead, also was in Leith in September. He was among supporters and bodyguards for Jeff Schoep, commander of the National Socialist Movement, formerly the American Nazi Party. Schoep called a town hall meeting to explain his extremist philosophy and drew an anti-hate protest crowd of about 300 people, many of them from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Cobb said Thursday a supporter donated a 33-foot trailer he plans to put on his property.
Many others have expressed interest in his Leith project, he said, and claimed, “I can induce many of them to come right away.”
Lee Cook, a Leith city councilman and neighbor, said the presence of the Duttons raises the level of seriousness about the whole matter.
“It was just Cobb before. It’s not just Cobb anymore. Here’s the news: Somebody’s here,” Cook said.
Besides moving in a pull-along trailer, Cobb said he plans to apply for several building permits. He purchased 12 other lots in town and has since made symbolic deed transfers to three other nationally known white supremacists.
The Duttons say they are home-schooling their children and intend to make Leith their home, even though they know people don’t like them or want them there.
“We’re happy to be part of it,” Kynan Dutton said. “Now that I’m here, the National Socialist Movement is here.” He said he’s also in Leith to protect Cobb against threats and to protect Cobb’s civil rights.
The Cobb residence is under scrutiny by the Custer District Health Unit, which served notice to him to show a plan for equipping the house with running water and sewer.
That notice expired and it appears the issue may wind up in court, where a judge would have to decide which health codes legally apply.
The Duttons say they are using an outhouse — the kids don’t mind it — and have plenty of fresh bottled water.
They plan to make water and toilet accommodations in Cobb’s house until they can build their own, and raise chickens and livestock, if that’s allowed, and a garden. Flags with swastikas and other supremacist symbols line the broken-down sidewalk leading to the house.
Cobb said, “They (health officials) think as soon as they condemn me it’s all over. It’s not like that at all. We’re still going to be the majority.”
Kynan Dutton said he’s a trained chef and is looking for kitchen work. If no one in the area will hire him because of his looks and beliefs, there’s always Bismarck-Mandan, he said.
The couple say they’re community-minded and plan to help out wherever they can around the area.
“We’ll smile and wave and I’ll be leading by example. Instead of saying, ‘I’m the great white man, with the great white family,’ I’ll do it by my actions,” he said. “We’d like to bring the town back to life; repair the park and improve the buildings.”
Deborah Dutton said her family may not be able to change people’s views about them or make peace in the community.
“We’re not here to make war either. We’re here to practice our civil rights. We’re ready for it. The kids are healthy and happy. They love it here,” she said.
Kynan Dutton said his beliefs boil down to a few words: “Secured existence of white children.”
The Duttons said they know of at least three others who are planning to move to Leith in the near future.
Cobb said he attempted to buy nine lots in the city of Regan and the lots were quickly pulled from the real estate listing. He said he’s asked the federal Housing and Urban Development to investigate. He said he’s also looking at property in Crosby.